Monday, May 27, 2013

[Lore] XVII: Greenscale

     When the Blood Storm came to Telara, the dragon gods each saw in Telara an echo of their own dreams and ambitions for the future. They each secretly planned to remake the world in their own image, taming it and coaxing it into their ultimate home. For Greenscale, this was savage, primal wilderness at its most untamed. He despises civilization and order in any form. There should be no rules, no laws, no hierarchy. There should only be survival of the fittest, only the strongest and most cunning would survive. There is no room for weakness, for vulnerability, or hesitation. Ambition, cunning, swift actions, these are the things Greenscale the Primeval values. During the Age of Dragons, Greenscale was the most familiar and widely known dragon god among the mortals, although that familiarity was one of terror and fear and dread. He would thunder and crash through the many regions of Telara, destroying towns and cities as he went. Whole, savage forests would spring up in his wake. Everywhere he stepped, seedlings of vast and terrible plants and creatures would fall, taking root everywhere. Within days, an entire city would disappear under the massive, flowering vegetation that Greenscale grew. The forests became like an aggressive, invasive force, unstoppable and ever-spreading. Vines and tangled, twisted plants grew at an accelerated rate, choking the life of anything too weak to withstand its advancement. Even the dragon of fire, Maelforge, didn't cause as much wide-spread destruction and devastation as Greenscale did, and thousands perished beneath his mighty green claws, his poison breath, and his rampant desire for battle. It is said that it was in the area now known as the Dendrome that Greenscale first set claw upon Telara, and it is there where the forests grow most wild and chaotic, even today.

     Finally, when the mortal races of Telara rallied and banded together to take the Blood Storm down, it was a Dwarven commander by the name of Thorvin Sternhammer and his allies who brought the mighty Greenscale down. Using powerful Death-magic, they were able to seal Greenscale into an impenetrable prison far beneath Stillmore, where his ferocious appetite for all things weak and civilized and soft was contained.

     Greenscale, an immensely powerful elemental force from the vast Plane of Life, arrived on Telara with his numerous minions, the Fae, under his command and those of his lieutenant, Fae Lord Twyl. After terrorizing the other continents, Greenscale moved on to the ripe and beautiful Mathosia. When they arrived among the forests of Mathosia, their vast, aggressive power severed the Elves' ties with the natural beasts and flora of the world. That bond has since been repaired, at least in part, due to the efforts of the Ascended in defense of Silverwood, although it is too late for the noble House Aelfwar, who fell into the promises of power and status that Greenscale represented. He revels in the idea of survival of the fittest, and would love to see nothing more than the world forever locked in a bloody struggle to survive, with those who are stronger taking down their former allies and rising to the top, until of course, another, stronger contestant comes along to take them out in turn. A constant, never-ending fight to be the strongest, most powerful being in nature with himself at the top, as he was the strongest. A "There can be only one" mentality. He hates civilization, order and cities. He believes that cities coddle the weak, encouraging weakness and vulnerability, as well as stemming the strength and cunning of those who are strong enough to take what they want.

     Imprisoned beneath Stillmore for hundreds of years, Greenscale seethed and plotted, slowly, ever so slowly, reaching out with his aggressive and invasive magic. Where Greenscale is imprisoned today, there once stood an ancient and holy temple. The name has long been forgotten, as well as much of the temple's structure itself, as Greenscale's magic has infiltrated the temple walls, overgrowing the structure with twisted plant life and otherworldly vines and beasts, as Greenscale slowly worked his will upon the land. When the Shade came, Greenscale's power intensified tenfold and he was able to influence and control the lesser creatures from the Plane of Life, influencing them to continue his desires for the world to be his hunting ground. Now the temple where Greenscale lies imprisoned is merely called Greenscale's Blight, forever reminding those who guard it that the dragon god is a blight upon the world, a perversion of the natural order. His powerful Faerie servitors, who had always held the top rank in Greenscale's vicious order, no longer under the thumb of their great and terrible lord, leech his powers from him as he lies imprisoned, fueling their wicked games and tricks with his twisted magic. Greenscale both admires and loathes their treachery, and if ever he is freed, it is unknown whether he would punish them for their transgressions against him, or reward them for their ruthless ability in taking advantage of his imprisonment.

    Lured to Greenscale's side by promises of the natural world being returned to what it once was, the noble House of Aelfwar, a highly esteemed order of the High Elves of Silverwood, fell to treachery and now seek to undermine any trappings of civilization they encounter, spreading Greenscale's will and the powerful stink of Life wherever they go. Too much Life power can be just as deadly as any of the other elements, and this is proven by the ability of the Aelfwar to seed an entire forest with new, twisted vines, alien plants, and strange, savage beasts. Why the Aelfwar could stoop so low is a question only they could answer. Through a portal into the Realm of the Fae, Lord Twyl is able to corrupt the sacred forest of Silverwood as well as it's noble Prince, Hylas, all in the name of Greenscale and his desire to destroy all the bastions of order and civilization. Sanctum is one such bastion, a city that Greenscale very eagerly wishes to trample underfoot himself.

     After being routed from Silverwood, Prince Hylas moved to Stillmore, where he prowls the prison's pathways, looking to find a way to unleash his dragon master. His closest allies, the Duke Letareus, a warrior imbued with massive life abilities; the Oracle Aleria, grief stricken and vengeful over the loss of her beloved granitewood trees, with her ability to enhance the beast within every sentient being; as well as the cunning and secretive Infiltrator Johlen, Hylas's spymaster. Each of these followers of Hylas are incredibly loyal, powerful and intelligent and to get past them is no small feat. Anyone who comes seeking to stop Hylas from unleashing Greenscale will have to deal with his underlings first, as well as Hylas himself. And the grounds are no easy walk, filled with traitorous Aelfwar and strange beasts, as well as rows of twisted plants and vines. Greenscale's Blight belongs more to Greenscale now than to those who were charged with guarding the prison.

     Approximately a year after the arrival of the Ascended on Telara, a band of brave Ascended ventured deep into Greenscale's prison to slay the beast. The demise of the avatar of life led to the release of dragon Motes, which were later discovered to only appear when the birth of another dragon avatar is imminent. And thus for the first time in a millennium, a new dragon god was born, this time white in color (I've no idea if that is significant or not!) and having a completely different personality than his predecessor Greenscale. Taking on the name Tasuil after circumstances surrounding Atrophinius and his brave corgi knight, this new dragon of the Plane of Life actually ended up on the side of Telara this time, aiding the Ascended on their many missions and adventures

References: this information was taken from Rift Zam, where I read up on the raid, Greenscale's Blight. I also got a lot of info myself from doing the Greenscale Chronicle with Shyla and Atrophinius. All information related to Rift, of course belongs to Trion and I don't claim to own this info! The last paragraph is a spoiler for the later expansions in a tiny sense if you haven't gone through that part of the story yet!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

[Raeslyn's Story] 2.16: Tokens of a Dragon

     After straightening out the mess with the students and making sure that Scotty didn't actually harm Fiona, since the teachers seemed to think that they needed to duke it out on their own, I remembered that the Guardians asked me to find and slay this Gutter, a notorious goblin leader who seems to be the one behind all the goblin troubles in Silverwood. It would be nice to get rid of him once and for all and free Silverwood from Maelforge's grasp. Of course I'm not naïve enough to think that this would solve all the world's problems, or even Silverwood's problems, but ya have to start somewhere, right? After selling off what junk I'd gathered along my travels-seriously, how does my bag get so full all the time?!-I went in search of the goblin hordes.

     After conversing with several Guardian officers on the location of the goblin threats, I worked out a general pattern and realized that the greatest concentration of goblins was up north, by the mountainous edge that marked Gloamwood and Moonshade Highlands. That didn't bode well and meant that the goblins were spilling over into Silverwood from Gloamwood for some reason. Normally I wouldn't think they'd dare be brave enough to attack Silverwood so openly like this, so something must be driving them...but I couldn't worry about that now. Deal with the current problems before moving on to others. As I ventured further and further north, into territory I'd not explored before, I began to see quite a bit of signs that the goblins had set up shop here. There were profane effigies to their malignant ruler, Maelforge, as well as crude bone statues, blood splattered on trees, and other disgusting goblin habits I'd read about but didn't want to analyze too closely. Disgusting creatures. Where'd goblins even come from anyway? I was mildly curious, but not curious or scholarly enough to pick up a book and read about it. I was more of an outdoors, actiony kind of girl. I ducked a low hanging branch as I moved along more slowly now. I could hear a loud commotion along with metallic clanks now, so I guessed I must be nearing their main camp. It was early evening, but I wasn't worried anymore about being out after dark after I'd learned I could see just as effectively as during the day.

     The camp...was horrifying. That's the only word I can use to describe this...horror. Goblins swarmed the area like giant, bloodthirsty ants, fighting with each other, slicing up questionable slabs of meat, stoking fires, sharpening blades, arguing, standing around, and generally looking like the worlds most disorderly army ever. The horrifying part was, interspersed among all the goblins were these tall, wooden poles. Atop each pole was carved a crude likeness of a dragon breathing fire, which I assumed was their representation of Maelforge. The dragon effigies clutched tiny sourcestone beads in their claws, which meant that they actually had power. And tethered to the poles were hapless men and women, mostly human and elven. It took me a moment to realize that these must all the missing travelers I'd heard about that had disappeared from the roads and paths in Silverwood. The Guardian's warnings about staying alert while on my missions gave a whole new meaning. As I watched, one of the bound victims screamed and slumped to the side. A shining mist floated up from the body and was eaten by the Maelforge carving. I stood there, wide-eyed, for who knows how long, just watching all the terrible things happening in this goblin camp. Truthfully, I knew I should attempt to do something about those poor souls, if only to prevent Maelforge from burning them up as fuel for his great power, but I just couldn't find a non risky way of freeing them without exposing myself to the same thing. The place was literally full of goblins and there was no feasible way for me to pass among them unseen. Which presented the same problem when trying to find their leader. How was I to know which was their leader anyway? They all looked the same. Squat, malformed looking creatures with manic expressions and skin the color of old blood. Their clothing barely covered them, hanging off in burnt tatters. No matter how long I looked, I couldn't find a single one that would fit even a loose definition of the word "leader."

     I was about to give up and see if there were other encampments around the mountains when I saw a goblin seemingly appear out of thin air. After a moment of staring I realized he'd climbed out of a cave hole. The goblin looked self-important, preening and strutting around camp, swatting his fellows and laughing at their outrage. Although he was obviously no foot soldier, I had a feeling this wasn't Gutter. But...I turned my gaze back to the cave hole, which I could barely spot from my position on the other side of the camp. I bet that Gutter was in there. Goblins loved dark underground spaces and if  I a goblin leader-perish the thought-I'd have chosen the most ideal spot to set up my own tent, so to speak.

    "Gotcha," I whispered triumphantly. Now to just get to that cave entrance. I considered the distance from my hiding spot to the shadowy dot that was the cave hole. Since I'd been using my abilities, they were coming easier to me, no doubt a perk of my new god given strength, but I wondered if I could keep up my stealth for that long, and avoid coming in close contact with any of the goblins along the way. I'd learned the hard way a few days ago that if one came too close to my invisible body, I was seen. Well, here goes. If this didn't work I was getting a crash course in how my immortality worked. I gave myself an amused head shake. Closing my eyes and taking a deep breath, I pulled upon my Ascended gifts, including the ability to bend the fabric of space around so that it folded over me, leaving me invisible to the naked eye. I didn't know how it worked exactly, but it was a pretty nifty ability that I was always using. It definitely helped my sneaky, assassiny skills. Not wanting to waste any time because I knew that the longer I held onto the invisibility, the harder it became to stay that way, I quickly darted out into the crowd. It took quite some skill to dodge around goblins and their sprawled possessions and I did knock over something roasting on a spit when I had to abruptly dodge two fighting goblins. The one watching the fire didn't seem to react though, busy digging his crooked teeth into something that I didn't look too closely at.

     I did lament the fact that I had no way to free those poor trapped souls, but it was either risk myself freeing them or kill Gutter and drive out the goblin threat once and for all. Not to mention, who knows if I'd be successful. I might end up right there beside them if I got caught, and that was not something I was willing to risk. I may be an Ascended, sworn to the Vigil, but I did have a healthy dose of self preservation. I think all assassins do.

     I was right, it was a cave hole. Whew, that's a relief. Imagine my embarrassment if I realized that the shadow the goblin had emerged from earlier was nothing more than a tree he'd taken a leak behind. Just as I reached the cooler shadow of the cave's entrance, my cloaking pattern failed me, leaving me standing with nothing but a few daggers. Thankfully the darkness of the interior seemed to effectively hide me from view of the camp, and there weren't any sentries posted inside the tunnel. I snorted. Goblins, so full of themselves. Or maybe just stupid. Probably both. Still, I unsheathed my daggers and moved silently on the balls of my feet down the slanting tunnel. Instead of getting cooler as I went down, the tunnel seemed oddly to be getting hotter. With a feel of planar energy to it. So the Guardian's spies were right, the goblins did have something of Maelforge in their greedy paws. Well, time to put an end to that. I reached the bottom of the dirty little cave and saw immediately that Gutter was the only one here. Perfect. He was a large goblin, easily a foot taller than the rest of his brethren, and I wondered why that was. No matter, he was still shorter than me and would die just as easily as his friends. Incredibly, he was oblivious to my presence, gazing at something red in his hand. Two torches stood on either side of him and a painting depicting a flying dragon made a macabre backdrop, no doubt painted with blood. I was debating whether I should try sneaking up on him or just rushing him when he conveniently turned and regarded the painting on the wall. Taking advantage of this, I rushed forward, knives flashing in the light of the torches. I managed to sink one dagger into the creature's back before he was able to twist around and dislodge me. I let go of the dagger to avoid being dragged off my feet and pulled out another one. I'd just retrieve the lost one off his corpse, I thought grimly.

     The goblin sneered at me with hate filled eyes, not at all startled or horrified to see me standing there. "The red dragon hungers for the ashes of this world! I will feed him your charred bones to keep him sated for now!" The goblin wrested one of the torches out of the ground and brandished it like a sword. I nearly laughed. This was the best the goblins had to offer? No wonder they hadn't actually made any headway in Silverwood. If there weren't so damn many of them, they wouldn't pose any threat at all. But because there were so many of them, and being directed by something so potent as an actual physical representation of Maelforge, I needed to put a stop to them as quickly as possible.

     "I'd like to see you try, scum!" I snarled back him. Gutter growled at me and swung the torch in a clumsy arc. Although I could have avoided it, I wanted this over quickly so steeled myself and stepped closer. The torch slammed into my left arm as I plunged my dagger into his chest. The goblin gave a choked, hateful cry of rage as he stumbled back, dropping the torch. Knowing he was done for, I stepped backward and cradled my damaged arm to my chest. By the Vigil that had hurt more than I thought. I hoped it wasn't broken. As Gutter gurgled his last, his hand spasmed and the red thing he was looking at earlier tumbled onto the dirt floor of the cave. It came to rest at my boot and I stared down at what looked to be a wicked sharp claw or talon. A talon of Maelforge. I backed up from the item, not trusting its innocent appearance. I tiptoed around the talon, bent and retrieved my daggers from Gutter's corpse. I wiped the ichor off on the goblin's tattered tunic and sheathed them all. I ripped a piece of linen off the goblin and used it to gingerly pick up the talon. I wrapped it tightly in several layers before hesitantly placed it in the bottom of my pack, not wanting to accidentally touch it while rummaging for something else. Mission accomplished, I stepped back from it all and silently crept back up the tilted tunnel that led out of the cave. The oppressive, overly hot atmosphere was causing my back to feel prickly with sweat and the malignance was making me dizzy. Time to get out of here.

     Outside, the camp went about as it had before, completely ignorant to the fact that their leader was dead. I wonder how long it would take them to realize that the terrifying force keeping them together as a unit was gone. They would break up into smaller groups, attack and kill each other, and eventually could be easily hunted down by the non-Ascended members of the Guardian faction. The only thing I regretted was having to leave those poor trapped travelers and students to the mercy of the goblins. Maybe I could alert the guard at Argent Glade to their plight and a contingent of men could come free them. That seemed like a good idea. Reaching out, I again wrapped the layers of air around me, although it was harder this time after it's recent use. After making sure that I was indeed invisible, I darted back through the camp and didn't even breathe until I was nearly a mile from the camp. Then I broke into a run and made good time back to Argent.

     It was well after dark and I was exhausted when I eventually made it back to Argent Glade. Knowing that the college would be closed for the night and everyone in bed, I followed that idea and went to sleep myself.
    "With Gutter defeated and the talon of Maelforge removed from their clutches, the goblins will retreat to where they came from hopefully. I'll have the talon sent on to Sanctum with a few trusted men to be placed in stasis in blessed crystal since it cannot be destroyed." Professor Bedstraw said. The next morning I'd taken the token of Maelforge to him and explained all that had happened. He'd also promised to see if anything could be done about the poor victims trapped in the camp. I nodded half heartedly at his words and the professor smiled gently. "You can't save everyone, dear one. Maelforge's power over Telara has been lessoned because of you, remember this, because the people of Silverwood will." I felt my spirits lift more at his words and gave him a grateful nod.
     "Thanks." I said, feeling awkward with all the attention. Bedstraw fiddled thoughtfully with the talon, before passing it on to a guard captain standing at alert nearby.
     "What if...just as Maelforge's talon was a physical artifact of his power, there was one for the Fae to use as well, tied to Greenscale? We already know that Hylas was given a very important gift by Lord Twyl. Our scouts confirm this. I'm beginning to suspect that his commanders also carry such potent tokens of Greenscale's power. Each of these artifacts must be collected and sealed away so that Greenscale does not gain any more power on Telara. If he were to break free of his prison..." The professor shuddered. He glanced at me to see if I was following and I nodded in agreement. It made sense. Dividing up the powerful artifacts among his commanders allowed Hylas to secure their loyalty by entrusting them with such important items, and it also spread out Greenscale's aura, allowing it to cloak a wider area.
     "We need to find these artifacts and get them away from the Aelfwar," I said thoughtfully. "I haven't been in Silverwood long enough to know where any of his commanders would be. I'd guess Overwatch, but it's too heavily fortified to just attack it outright...." Bedstraw was shaking his head and I raised an eyebrow.

     "I've received news yesterday that Marshal Rowen, one of Hylas's most trusted commanders, has recently been spotted at the Palisade up north. He carries the most effective of the Fae artifacts. If we can get a hold of that, it would be a great blow we could deal to the Aelfwar." I tried to keep my face blank of emotion as Bedstraw mentioned Marshal Rowen. Oh gods, I knew him! This is what I dreaded most, having to face off against someone among the Aelfwar that I actually had a passing acquaintance with.
     "I see." I finally managed to get out past my dry throat when Bedstraw looked at me expectantly. He frowned and I looked away, studying the gray walls that surrounded Quicksilver. The morning light shone down upon the courtyard, covering everything with a warm sunny glow so completely opposite of what I was feeling right now. I ignored the concerned look Bedstraw was now giving me as my mind swept me back to memories of years ago...before my death...before the Aelfwar had gone against their oaths...back when the world was a simpler place. What I wouldn't give to be back in that time again. I can clearly picture Marshal Rowen's kind face as he praised me on my footwork, having walked by as I was sparring with one of the other students at the Keep. In between my lessons at Quicksilver, my mentor had taught me the basics of hand to hand fighting, defending myself, and stealthy attacks with daggers. Marshal Rowen had laughingly said that he'd better watch his back, I was getting so skilled at daggers that he was concerned I'd murder them all in their beds. The other soldiers watching had laughed.....oh how true his words were turning out to be. Grief surged in my heart, and bitter resentment. Why had they turned from the gods? Why had they forsaken their ages old oaths to Tavril? Their covenant to protect and watch over the land? Did Hylas truly believe he was doing what was best for Telara?
     I became aware that Bedstraw was talking to me in a loud voice. "Raeslyn? Lady Ascended? Are you alright?" He waved one of the nearby students to fetch a glass of water. I shook myself and reigned in my emotions, picturing a still pond like my mentor trained me to, and dumping all my feelings into it, to slide beneath the surface...there, now I could think clearer. I straightened from my hunched posture and pasted my customary look of mild impatience back on.

     "Yes. Yes I'm fine." I said, a little sharply to cover up any weakness there might otherwise have been in my voice. "The Palisade? I remember where that is, actually. I'll fetch this Fae artifact." I turned on my heel and calmly walked off, head held high, before anyone could question me further. The student with the glass of water ran up to Bedstraw just as I was leaving and I saw him take the glass and thank her out of the corner of my eye. Both student and professor watched me walk away but I didn't turn around or pause. Just treat this like any other task. I can do this. For Silverwood.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

[Chapter Summary]: Terminus

Terminus Zone Summary
     I hope the first part of Karazhan's tale was an interesting read. It was often quite tricky to keep the two girls as two separate entities with their own traits, personalities and opinions. Karazhan is from a different culture, has different views on the world, and often has different reactions to things. It took a very long time to actually write up this section of my blog because I kept wanting to redo my character or look over a certain part of the storyline again after I'd already completed it. That's the frustrating part about redoing Terminus or Mathosia. You can't just go back and get more pictures, or re-read some dialogue, because its an instanced zone that you complete. So I have to delete and start over. Not that I mind because each time I do it, I find something else out that I didn't know before, which is really fun. Anyway, here's the summary of the Terminus story. Of course Karazhan's story is far from finished. In fact, it has only just begun, poor girl. Here she was hoping she'd get to rest when she made it to the past. Oh well, it will definitely make for an interesting read later on. Some things that I mention here, both on the summary page and in the actual chapters, will be inconsistent with a newer player's experience upon playing through the storyline due to Trion changing up the starter zones to be more streamlined for new players. A lot of the lore and story bits have been snipped out and replaced with tutorials and such, which I understand but it makes it just that much harder for lorehounds and roleplayers to really immerse themselves into the game or find story in the endless stream of quests.

*Quest update*: When I started this story, the setup for the starting zones for Rift were quite a bit different than they are now! For instance I'm sure if you did the starting zone now (I'm writing this update July 18th, 2016) a lot of the quests have been removed to allow for "a more streamlined questing experience". Which means that all quests that are fluff or are just lore or additional exp have been removed. Instead, we get tutorial quests and suchlike to help new players find their way around the crazy Rift mechanics and abilities. I understand why they did it, but I still miss all the race quests!
         Chapter One List:                                                          List of Lore Pages:
0.5: Defiant Introduction Letter                                      Archive I: The Price of Progress
1.0: Ascended of a Different Variety                               Archive II: History of the Life Factory
1.1: Apocalypse Now                                                     Archive III: Lastlight and Terminus
1.2: The Town of Lastlight                                              Archive IV: Asha Catari
1.3: Fanatics                                                                   Archive V: The Defiant (Defiant PoV)
1.4: Tempest Station                                                      Archive VI: The Failsafe Device
Off Topic Discussions:
The Story Thus Far:
     Karazhan, a Kelari mage brought back from death and accidentally placed into the body of a Bahmi, has been thrust into a future where the world has been all but destroyed by the dreaded Regulos the Destroyer, member of the Blood Storm, . Was it fate's design for her to be the one chosen for Ascension over the original host soul, or was it merely a fluke that she was given control over the soul matrix instead? Her soul was obviously a promising choice among many fished out of the Soulstream and given a new body, new abilities, and new immortality. Now she is a Machineborn Ascended, rival to the Guardian Ascended in power and ability. She is now a Defiant, a faction of heretics who believe the gods are useless. In the distant future she has become apart of, Karazhan learns that she is the last remaining hope of saving the doomed Telara. The minions of Regulos press upon the meager defenses of the last bastion of hope that the world has left. Through a series of short missions, Karazhan learns that the Defiant's goal is to enter a machine called the Failsafe Device and go back through time to the past, where she will have the knowledge and power required to stop the Blood Storm and their cults before the grim future that she came from happens. Along the way she meets many prominent members of the Defiant faction, helping out where she can with her small supply of Mage spells. As she leaves the Life Factory on her journey to the Rubicon to use the Failsafe, she learns more about her new abilities and her own determination, surprising herself with her resourcefulness and appreciation of her newfound life. Karazhan also learns of another faction of fanatics who have survived the end of days with their faith shaken so badly that they have lost all reason. The Guardians of this timeline believe that if they purge the Defiant from Telara that the Vigil gods will forgive them and forge a paradise for their faithful children. Fortunately the Guardians are few in number and disorganized and so pose no real threat. The undead and cultists are also easy to manage, as each seems to be out only for themselves. And the fiends and minions of the cults are little more than mindless drones, easily picked off by our Bahmi hero as she continues her mission. After many an hour struggling against the ilk of Regulos, Karazhan comes upon the Failsafe anchor machine, where Stavel Rosso, Sylver's assistant, awaits her. There, he spins up the Failsafe device, only to realize that the vast amount of sourcestone being used has drawn the gaze of Regulos himself, who sends one of his legion, Alsbeth the Discordant, to distract and slow down Karazhan until he can arrive and put an end to this petty rebellion. Asha arrives in the nick of time, able to divert Regulos's power and attention onto her own self using unique and mysterious magic. While Regulos is busy fighting against her, Karazhan makes use of the distraction and slips through the temporal stream that is created by powering the Failsafe device, finding herself lost in the temporal matrix, wondering if she'll even arrive at her destination in one piece. Only time will tell.
Zone Details:
  • Mob Types
    • Undead
    • Planar
    • Humanoid
  • Level Range:
    • 1-9
  • Total Time Spent in Zone:
    • 3 hours
  • Level Upon Leaving Zone:
    • 8
  • List of Questgivers:
    • Sylver Valis
    • Dacia Ultan
    • Koke Tegus
    • Vexa Ix'thla
    • Asha Catari
    • Kain Sunsworn
    • Rahn Chuluun
    • Ignacia Bulwart
    • Faceless Man
    • Raj Tahleed
    • Isach Undugar
    • Stavel Rosso
  • List of Quests:
    • Ascended of the Highest Quality-speak to Dacia
    • Trial of Ascension-kill 6 Telaran husks
    • Our Last Stand-activate 5 defense consoles
    • Thorn in My Side-kill 3 endless dominators/5 spectral harvesters
    • Gathering Power-collect sourcestone ore from harvesters
    • Flipping the Switch-activate the Temporal Flux in the Sinkhole cave
    • Paving the Way-kill 6 hulking phantasms
    • Bound in Blood-collect 6 essences of the Bahmi
    • Walking the Dogma-kill 2 guardian sergeants/6 guardian zealots
    • Turning the Knob-Replace the missing resonance capacitor part
    • A Matter of Training-report to Mistress Ashear at Tempest Station
    • Reduce, Recycle, Re-educate-use the soul reclamation device on Shyla
    • This Might Hurt a Little-use the soul cleanser on Shyla's soul
    • You Reap What You Sow-collect anima essence from soul callers and soul fragments from decaying/risen Telarans
    • No Quarter-begin the ascent to Rubicon
    • Into the Time Machine-speak with Stavel Rosso at the Failsafe
  • Locations of Note (by co-ordinates):
    • 1085, 1003-Soul Informer
    • 1073, 1008-Knowledge Collector
    • 1072, 996-Soul Informer
    • 1071, 1030-Soul Informer
    • 1069, 1047-Construct Components=green quality armor
    • 1067, 1021-Knowledge Collector
    • 1044, 1016-Soul Analyzer
    • 1037, 1049-Knowledge Collector
    • 1029, 1021-Book=The Price of Progress
    • 1016, 1014-Knowledge Collector
    • 894, 1030-Puppet Master <Priest of Regulos> (level 2 Undead)=white quality weapon
    • 864, 1024-Andretta the Hag (rare) =green quality weapon
    • 860, 988- Abandoned Belongings=green quality armor
    • 789, 973-Slave Driver (rare)= green quality weapon
    • 769, 942-Knowledge Collector
    • 764, 966- Knowledge Collector
    • 761, 963-Sourcestone Box=Buff, AP, health, armor, resistance
    • 740, 1048-Harvest Master (wandering mob)=white quality armor
    • 738, 1034-Forgotten War Machine (wandering mob)=white quality armor
    • 730, 1076-Offering to Regulos (altar) =green quality item
    • 699, 1084-Raging War Machine (rare)=green quality armor
    • 594, 1006- Knowledge Collector
    • 583, 892-Alaric the Fanatic=green quality armor
    • 556, 858- Captain Thrace=green quality weapon
    • 548, 941-Memloch the Inquisitor=green quality weapon
  • Map of the Zone:
My Opinion of the Zone:
     As I went about doing the Defiant starting zone, I made sure to catalog all the neat things I saw, which meant that I gained quite a few more levels than I would normally if I was just wanting to get through the zone. So that's why I stated that the max level of the zone was 9. I'd say the average player would leave the zone around lvl 6-7. Obviously if you really wanted to you could stay for even longer and keep getting more exp, but I was eager to move on to the next area, as the Terminus storyline is only the prologue to a very fascinating book! That's what I love most about Rift and Trion's efforts with it. It's the storyline! Even though it's quite obscure, confusing, and sometimes even backwards, the story IS there, you just have to be adept at looking for it and piecing all the little tidbits together into a greater picture. Which is mostly why I'm even doing this blog!
     Well, this starting zone certainly wasn't as engaging as the Mathosia storyline. There were so many interesting little things to discover in the Mathosia starter zone that kept my interest as I investigated and explored. For Terminus, you really had to go out of your way to search for the little gadgets and items. And the rares were very rare indeed. I found only 2 in the many times I was in the zone, and never did I see two in the same session. Also, the theme was darker and more grim and urgent. You definitely got the sense of the world coming to an end in this zone. And that actually lent a realistic flair to the environment that I rather liked. All in all, the zone wasn't that bad to play through and since I prefer the Defiant over the Guardians, I enjoyed myself running through Terminus. I would give the zone a 4/5 because of it's lack of engaging oddities like the Mathosia zone had as well as the removal of specific player race quests that would give a tiny bit of info on each race.

Back to the Prologue
Karazhan's Story Chapter 2 Summary

Extra Screenshots:

Monday, May 20, 2013

[Lore] XVI: The Failsafe Device

      Discovered and successfully engineered by Orphiel Farwind, the Failsafe Device, as he called it, is a temporal anchor through time with a machine attached to that anchor that would allow a being to travel through time to a different point in the machine's history. The official name of the device is the Distal Temporal Refraction Device. As far as is known, Orphiel never actually mastered time travel, but he was able to create this device which allowed Machineborn Ascended from the future to travel to the past and warn the peoples there of what would happen at the end of days. When asked to explain his device, Orphiel stated that it "confuses time on such a base level that time would rather ignore it completely than attempt to resolve the issue."

     Stavel, Sylver's assistant, runs the actual mechanics of the Failsafe up on the hill before you are confronted by Regulos and use the device. When you speak to him he says "I have prepared Orphiel's Failsafe Device to Sylver's specifications. I've been running tests on the gateway while waiting for your arrival. It should be ready." So originally it was Orphiel's Failsafe, but than he disappeared before the destruction of Meridian. No one knows where. A body could not be found. But they couldn't give up their plans and studies on finding a way to create their own Ascended, so the remaining Defiant scientists went into hiding after Meridian was sacked, bringing their technology and plans with them to protect it from the Guardians and than later, the Blood Storm. Did they pack up and move the Device or leave it where it had been built? I can't say. Maybe they only brought parts of it with them and than reconstructed it after venturing out of the Life Factory in the future, after the world had been all but destroyed. If you ask Stavel "How does Orphiel's Failsafe work?" he will say, "It took us some time to decipher the genius of Orphiel's construction, but the Failsafe is fully functioning. As you may know, all of our data shows that the device can only send you back to the time of its creation. But that should be enough time for you to stop this future from repeating." Curious. That seems to imply that Orphiel never actually left instruction on the Device. Meaning that he hadn't planned on disappearing? He was planning on coming back to that that time and continuing his work? But if he DID use the time machine himself, he would have altered history and would have than ended up in a different timeline, unable to return to the timeline he had originally left behind. That would explain a lot actually of what happened to him and why he wasn't present during the end of Telara. And than also, upon activating the device, Stavel exclaims "Something isn't right! Regulos must be blocking the Temporal Stream!" Curious. Regulos can do that? Can he see the temporal stream? But if he had that kind of power, wouldn't he able to stop the Ascended from slipping through time and preventing his destroying the planet? Although Asha did have him distracted with her assault. It seemed for a few moments that she was evenly matched against him. Of course only for a few moments because in the cut scene after that, he overwhelms and kills her with his own power.

     According to citizens who survived the destruction of the world at Regulos's hand, the Failsafe device in the future would bring the Ascended to a point in time just after the Failsafe device had been built, at the beginning. This would be Year 0 in the Rift timeline, as the calendar started over to mark the coming of the Ascended and the arrival of the Rifts. What's strange is that the knowledge collector states a fixed point in time after the machine was created, but the people say TO the point in time of its creation. Do they not know that you can travel to other times? How did these people know where exactly the time machine would send the Ascended? Was there a way to alter your temporal destination? Had others gone to different times in the past, in the testing of the device? I would assume that the device had been tested because leaving it to chance when all hope rested on the Ascended reaching their specific destination seemed rather reckless and irresponsible. It is known that Orphiel succeeded in placing items in the time device and having them appear at a different fixed position in time as long as it happened after the machine had been built. You could always go forward in time but not back because the device had been built in a certain year so any years before that were unreachable unless some other means were discovered. So what impact did these objects have on the study of the device? How was one to determine when the object would appear? How could one determine the correct calculations to each year?

     The time machine consists of a few distinct parts, located in different places. There is the Temporal Flux, the Resonance Capacitor, Automata Inflector, and the anchor device, controlled and programed by Sylver Valis, who is Orphiel's assistant when it comes to magitech machines. In the future, at the end of days when Regulos is ready to swoop in and destroy the remaining part of the world, Terminus, the Temporal Flux is located in a cave in the Sinkhole. The Resonance Capacitor is located across from it in a field controlled by Guardian zealots. The Automata Inflector is located in Castrum Hiberna on the right side tucked away behind all the houses down a hill and the actual machine that sends you through time is located up a hill past the Rubicon. In the past, the year the Ascended return to upon using the device, the anchor machine is located in a hill beside the bridge that led to Silverwood while the other parts I'm unsure of.

     A knowledge collector located next to the Temporal Flux in the cave says:

"Greetings Ascended, I am an automata designed to recount tales of history." When initiated, it has this to say on the Failsafe Device and the Temporal Flux:
  • 1.)Do not initiate the Temporal Flux unless preparation has begun to initiate the Failsafe Device. The Temporal Flux is necessary to initiate the Failsafe Device but is dangerously unstable and could potentially unravel elements of the temporal tapestry.
  • 2.)Once the Temporal Flux has been initiated, do not allow it to be interrupted. Doing so could also potentially unravel elements of the temporal tapestry.
  • 3.)Do not eat or drink near the Temporal Flux.
  • 4.)Initiation of the Temporal Flux is likely to attract the attention of Regulos the Destroyer as a large amount of sourcestone will be burned.
     This suggests that the Failsafe Device requires a vast amount of energy and effort to power up and use successfully, which might explain why there seems to be only one Ascended sent through in that timeline. Of course, when you the Ascended travel through the time machine, you are given blueprints to bring back with you so that Defiants in the past can recreate the process of making Machineborn Ascended. That implies that history will be changed since they could than start creating their own Ascended earlier than originally intended. What happens than to the Terminus timeline? Does it collapse? Keep running alongside the timeline that the Ascended find themselves in once they travel to the past? Completely destroyed by a successful and vengeful Regulos? Asha says that you must go through the time machine and make sure this future never happens. So we can assume that the future Terminus doesn't in fact happen after all once we go through time, because we rewrite history itself by appearing in the past.

     Another odd thing to note. Before Trion changed around the starter zone quests to make it easier and faster to get through the zone, one of the quests was to initiate the Temporal Flux. I am actually quite depressed that they took this quest out of the game. After you initiate the device, power goes through it and a man comes to life on a platform next to the Flux. He is named "Defiant of Old" and says "Regulos, your curse is broken! The Ascended has released me. I shall send your minions back to the foul plane of their ignoble birth". What exactly was a Defiant doing stuck in that machine? Was he stuck in time? Trapped? Perhaps he was one of the test subjects sent through initially while they were testing the Failsafe. If so why did he say that Regulos cursed him? Perhaps while lost in the temporal stream Regulos cursed him? Rather interesting I'd say!

     In conclusion, it's rather frustrating that I don't know more about the Failsafe Device! Maybe more information will come to light as I continue through the game. For now, all I have is lots of questions about the subject. And one last note. It seems that Orphiel disappeared sometime before the destruction of Meridian, which implies that it was right after his construction of the device. That leaves us to wonder: Did he use the device himself, untested? If he did, where did he end up? He could only have gone to the future because you can't go past the creation point of the device. While in the future did he find the plans to create Ascended? What else did he discover? By using the device, he would irrevocably altered history yet again and would have changed his own future. The Orphiel that sits in his tower in Meridian might or might not be the same one that created the Failsafe Device. He seems mysteriously quiet about everything and does not associate with anyone else in Meridian, instead he seems focused on a giant telescope. What exactly can he see from that position? Is he mapping constellations and stars? Does that determine the time you can travel to in the device? Who knows, I certainly don't.

References: The information for this lore excerpt can be found in the Terminus zone/the starter zone for the Defiant by reading the little knowledge collectors strewn about the zone. There's actually quite a bit of information there. Also, I recorded quest information from before the changes made to the zone so have a bit more lore than is given to us now.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

[Karazhan's Story] 1.5: At World's End

      I struggled along behind the construct as it easily ate up the distance. After we'd left the ruins of the village behind, I found that we'd veered to the northwest. There, against the sharp sides of the mountain, was a small path hewn into the rock. I paused as I studied it thoughtfully. Had the path been here before the Defiant set up their forces, or had they themselves cut a path into the rock? I wondered, again, why the Failsafe was so far from any of their outposts or army encampments. It made no sense that something so pivotal wouldn't be better protected. I shook my head as I followed the construct up the rocky incline. I guess the reasoning was irrelevant now.
      I cringed as the construct mulched its way through the forces of Regulos that seemed to be laying in wait for us on the mountain edge. At last the construct slowed and no longer seemed to bristle with threat. Curious, I jogged to catch up and peeked around the large machine. Up ahead, the ground evened out to my relief. My shins were already burning from the steep uphill climb. A barricade of wooden stakes cut off the path and I was ever so glad to see men clad in red and silver and gold armor guarding the passage. It seems I'd made it to this Rubicon. My heart felt light but at the same time a flutter of unease grew in my belly. End game now. I took a deep breath. It was now or never. And I never really had a choice anyway. The eyes of the guards flicked over me with somber wariness as I drew abreast of them, assessing my potential as a threat. I stood still, not wanting my superior height to intimidate the shorter Eth men.
     "Ascended?" One of the men inquired cautiously, quietly. I nodded. The two glanced at each other and some of the tension seemed to leave them. Their eyes gazed at me with hope now, and resolve. Inwardly I cringed. "I'm here to activate the Failsafe." I said, softly. Nevertheless, the words seemed to echo all around me. The two guards bowed and shuffled to the sides. The construct, having been still and silent this whole time, now lumbered off without a word. I watched it go, somewhat at a loss.

     "Isach Undugar, the master at arms, would no doubt have some instruction for you." The Defiant guard standing nearby startled me with his words. I turned to see him giving me a friendly, if somewhat nervous look. I pushed a smile onto my face and thanked him. At least I won't have to wander around in confusion. I continued up the path until I'd passed the barricades. A tall banner in the familiar red and gold colors of the Defiant stood to the left of the path, rippling in the breeze. I gazed thoughtfully at the design. It was rendered beautifully on thick red cloth. A bird of some sort in flight with its beak pointed up, encircled by sourcestone. Idly, I wondered what the bird and sourcestone represented. More guards and centurions bowed to me as I passed, or murmured thanks.

     Isach was dressed in a red button-down overcoat with gold embroidery and had on an unusual-looking helmet. He carried a heavy double-barrel shotgun and had a grim expression. He smiled at me, but the smile did not reach his eyes.

     "Great sun, an Ascended!" He exclaimed, startled, as he noticed my presence. I quirked a dry grin. As if I haven't heard that before. "I'm glad you've made it, Ascended! You've surpassed every expectation we had in you for saving us. Time is running out for us though. We need to get you to Orphiel's Failsafe before Regulos discovers our plans and it's too late to stop him!" I nodded, fighting the urge to bite my lip. This seemed so surreal to be true. All this time I'd been running from point A to point B without really stopping to fully realize my situation. Here I was, saving the world. Me, a young clueless mage who wasn't even supposed to be chosen for this body. It seemed rather unbelievable.

     "I'm ready sir." I said, hiding the quiver in my voice. This was a lot to take in for anyone.
      Isach nodded, looking relieved. "All is in place for the Failsafe to carry you back to the moment it was first installed. Only you, Ascended, are strong enough to stop the future by fixing the past." I frowned at that. That comment, along with the earlier one about surpassing their expectations, gave me the impression that I wasn't the first one they had tried sending on this mission. Had others been sent from the outposts and failed, I wonder?  Isach's next words brought me out of my reverie. "Sylver's assistant, Stavel, is up the hill making the final preparations for your journey. This is all on you, friend. Go no, before Regulos discovers our plans to alter history!" He pointed urgently and I turned, seeing yet another path going up an incline. I couldn't see anything over the hill but I assumed there must be a plateau or a flat space for the Failsafe to be sitting on. My eyes were drawn further upward, where they were held by the dancing fires of the volcano. Up here in the mountains, the volcano was closer than ever. I could almost imagine that I felt the heat from the lava, burning my skin and drying out my eyes. The red ash that floated into the air seemed to drift down in our direction specifically and I shivered. I needed to do this, for all the lives that had been lost, for my world that had been destroyed by that monster. I gave Isach a nod and he inclined his head at me, a show of respect. All the guards around him raised their fists at me. I took a look around. It was now or never. I almost winced. Such emotion charged the air. I wonder what it feels like for them, knowing they put their very lives into the cause of helping a few lone Ascended return to the past. If I do this correctly, this future will cease to exist. Will these people cease to exist as well? Or will they be there, but not there? The same people, but different for not having been through this terrible ordeal. I wonder, would I cease to exist, since I was resurrected in this future? Or maybe since I traveled into the past physically, would the world just find a way to squeeze me into the great wheel of things? How far into the past will I go? Will I see my younger self? Relations? Ancestors? Descendants? Ok, that was just too weird, time to concentrate.
      As if sensing my internal debate, the master of arms placed his hand on my shoulder. "I know you can do this, Ascended. Sylver Valis wouldn't have chosen you otherwise." I smiled, but inside just grew more uneasy. That's just it, I thought desperately as I gazed up the hill, dread filling me. I was a mistake. What if I'm not the Ascended he needs? I was competent for what was expected of me back on the Isle, but after I'd died....something I refused to think about it even for a moment...who knows? Even with my newly exalted status I might not be enough to do any good.

     "We face destruction, Defiant and you are our only chance. Now go!" Isach spoke, a bit more urgently and harshly. He looked up, eyeing the darkening skies. I stood up straighter and before I could second guess myself, marched up the hill. So be it, I'll do my best, or die trying.
      I headed for the incline that would lead me, finally, to the end of my mission here. The results that I'd been striving toward for what seemed like an eternity. In reality it had hardly been but two days. The time seemed to pass differently here, blurring together. Just before I set foot on the bottom of the incline, a hand on my arm stayed me. I glanced to the side to see a young Eth woman in a pretty pink dress standing off to the side. I looked into her eyes and was startled by the sharp intelligence I saw shining back at me. Her face was blotched and red from crying and her eyes watered even as I looked at her. I gave her a questioning look.
  "I used to believe in the Guardians, you know. Then they failed us. I stopped believing in gods, heroes...all of it. Belief is nothing more than a comfortable lie. We Defiants, we think and we do." She nodded at me as if that should make sense. I frowned. What was she getting at? I didn't have the time to tarry and comfort some lone weeping girl I'd never met and would likely never meet again. I blinked as I felt something being thrust into my hands and gazed down at a smudged roll of parchment. "As soon as you enter the Failsafe, this land will be overcome with death invasions." The woman said, looking terrified. I felt my mouth fall open slightly as dismay filled me. A pang of compassion caused me to fold the note and deposit it into my bags, before I turned my attention fully to her. "We hoped to hold out a little longer, but we had to reroute all power to the Failsafe, to ensure you made it to the past. This means it is all solely on you to carry our findings to the past." She wet her lips and looked down at her hands. I felt the blood leave my face. All on me? Sure, I knew that I had to go back and warn some important people about what was to happen, but what did she mean, all on me? I shook my head, stunned.

     "By my calculations, you should arrive shortly after we discovered the original life factory, twenty years ago." I perked up at that. Finally a bit more concrete information on what to expect on the other side of the Failsafe. "Deliver these papers to Sanora Rellwyn. Remember that name! She is a trusted Defiant loyalist and will be able to direct you in the past. It will give the Defiants of the past the secret to crafting Ascended beings and will serve as further proof of who you are." I placed my hand over the my bag that contained the letter. Oh. I had thought it was some love letter she wanted me to give to someone, but now that I thought about that, it seemed rather silly since when I travelled to the past, this future would never happen and there would be no need for such a letter. I can't believe I am holding the blueprints to creating Ascended. That much knowledge and information, being entrusted to me? I gazed at the woman more closely. She didn't look like a scientist or a technomancer.

     "I will try my best to ensure this information is given to this Sanora." I said quietly. "Spirits willing, I won't fail." The woman's eyes overflowed with tears again.
      "Thank you, thank you!" She exclaimed, looking sad and tired and relieved all at once. I grasped her cold hands with mine and squeezed her fingers gently, hoping to lend her some of my strength. "What is your name?" I asked her. I felt maybe I should find her in the past and let her know that I had succeeded. If I succeed. I pushed that last thought aside. The woman smiled at me, making her look radiant against the dark backdrop of the mountains.

     "Quaeni. My name is Quaeni Nidain." She smiled up at me and I smiled gently back. Than I let her hands go and looked up the path. "Farewell, Quaeni." I said. She raised a fist in salute. I felt emotion catch in my throat and was stunned to realize that tears were making their way down my cheeks. Despite the short length of time I'd spent in this bleak future, among these Defiants I'd never met before and would likely never meet again, I felt something for them. A kinship and sense of purpose that we all shared. United under one cause. I can only hope I can fulfill the task given to me.

     Atop the hill was a small plateau, as I had guessed. A magitech's dream was sprawled out across the flat area. There were machines, trinkets, tubes, gadgets, sourcestone, tools and boxes everywhere. In the center of the small field a raised platform took center stage. My eyes were immediately drawn to it. There was a long handle-looking prong that that extended upward from the platform and hovered over it. A large red circle was embedded in the overhead machine and glowed dully. Large chunks of sourcestone littered the area around the platform. Idly glancing around, I finally spotted an Elf standing behind what I assumed to be the control center. There was a small red tent behind him packed full of various odds and ends of the magitech variety and I had to clamp down on the souls inside me as the strong desire to run over there and investigate it all shivered through me. We didn't have time for that! Time to see what I was made of. Come on, Kara!
  The man called Stavel Rosso, the assistant of the notorious Sylver Valis was standing on another raised platform fiddling with a control panel with many wirings, tubes and technological devices snaking away from it. He was a pale, tall man in heavy robes. He looked intensely relieved when he saw me approach.

     "It is an honor, Defiant. I have prepared Orphiel's Failsafe device to Sylver's specifications. I've been running tests on the gateway while waiting for your arrival. It should be ready."

     "Thank you." I said softly, nervously eyeing the machine sitting in the center of the clearing. I have to admit that I was quite a bit apprehensive now that the moment had arrived. Who knew what would happen? They say that it will work but do they know for sure? What if I end up stuck in the temporal stream? Or end up in a different time than I need to? What time exactly will I end up in? I opened my mouth to ask when Stavel interrupted me, although politely. "I don't mean to rush you, but I don't know how long we will be able to hold this gateway to the past open, nor do I know how long our defenses can last. Prepare yourself and let me know when your ready." As he finished he gave me a reassuring smile, as if sensing my forboding. I tried to smile back, sure it looked more like a grimace.

     "I am ready. Activate the device." As soon as I said the words my heartbeat sped up. This was it. No going back. I've passed the point of no return. This was further evidenced by Stavel's nod. He hit a switch and a whirring noise from behind signaled the powering up of the device.

   I wandered over to inspect the machine more closely as he played with the wires and gadgets on his end. Suddenly Stavel yelled something. From where I was, over by the Failsafe platform, I couldn't hear what the exact words but from his tone of voice it didn't sound like anything good. I turned back toward him and raised my arms in a shrug-like motion to indicate I hadn't heard and than I noticed that his eyes were wide and horror-filled and were gazing at....I turned sharply back to the Failsafe and gasped. Dark tendrils and strange tentacle like ropes were descending rapidly from the sky and converging on the platform. I dived out of the way of one such tentacle to avoid being skewered.
     "It's Regulos! He must be blocking the temporal stream!" Finally, Stavel's fear-tinged voice reached my ears and a shiver of dread went through me. No! I did not want to tangle with the Destroyer.
     I was making my way hesitantly back across the clearing to the Eth scientist when a strange, red robed woman blinked into existence in front of me, hovering several feet above my head. I jerked back, surprised.

     "By the gods!" I exclaimed. Where did this woman come from? Immediately I knew she was a threat. I glanced at Stavel out of the corner of my eye.

     "Fools! Do you think my master would allow you to escape so easily? Your petty machines will help you no more than the gods you spurned!" The woman screeched hatefully, pointing a long, hooked finger at me. Her voice was hideous, filled with evil and strong magic. The woman waved her arms and chanted something in a language that sent prickles of unease up my arms. Death magic. Undead minions crawled their way out of the ground all over the clearing, confirming my suspicions. I braced myself for combat, shaking my staff free of its bindings and planting it firmly in front of me. Instead of attacking me as I expected, the undead creatures set themselves on the components of the time machine and I realized that this must actually be a real threat to Regulos if he'd attack that first. So mindlessly focused on the magitech's destruction were the zombies that it was an easy enough task to pick them off. I called upon my own magic to swiftly put an end to the threat. I was panting with exertion and fear as I finished off the last one.

     "Why do you resist the will of Regulos? Are you really so eager to die again?" The woman's voice boomed again, startling me so badly I nearly dropped my staff. Yes, fearless Ascended here. She bent her head and muttered something else and I tensed, waiting for more zombies. This time, though, it was some mutated planar creature I'd never seen the like of before. It was horrifying.

     The creature, large and gray, lumbered toward me with all the grace of an ox and I knew that reflex and finesse would win this fight. The creature was big and strong, but it was incredibly slow. I was easily able to dodge its wide swings and avoid its hits, attacking from behind with quick bursts of magic and veiling myself in protection spells. Slowly I wore the beast down but I could practically feel time ticking away. Finally, with an outraged roar the abomination collapsed to the death-shrouded ground, victim to my fireballs. I wiped sweat off my forehead.

     "Enough of this foolishness! I will slay you myself and my master shall consume this world at last!" The woman's zealous cries were really beginning to irk my rather mild temper. At this point I was quite looking forward to sending one of my spells right at her face. Thankfully the whole situation was causing my fear to shrink. I was too busy protecting the device and putting an end to the creatures of the Death Plane to act like a terrified rabbit. The woman floated to the ground and said a few words of arcane death magic. Her skill in death magic was quit impressive, unfortunately. Obviously she'd had a long time to master her skill. I'd always veered away from death magic, knowing nothing good would come of it and finding that elemental magic came easier to me. I wasn't quite prepared to fight a mage of her caliber. I'd only been expecting to enter the Failsafe and go the past. I shuffled to the side uneasily, waiting for her to make the first move.

     "Not while I still draw breath, betrayer!" I gasped, recognizing that strong voice. I glanced behind me, keeping the woman in sight and grinned upon seeing Asha Catari run up behind me with a handful of Defiant defenders. She was definitely a welcome sight. Thank the ancestors I wouldn't be fighting this woman alone.
    "Perfect timing, Lady Catari!" I called with relief.

     "Asha! I welcome your petty gesture. Your end is long overdue!" The woman shrieked, sounding infuriated at seeing Asha. Obviously there was some history there I didn't know about. I glanced over uneasily at Asha, wondering what her plan was. Seeing the determined look in her eyes, I readied my staff and planted my feet firmly. As an Immortal Ascended chosen by these people to be their savior, I would do my utmost to defeat this wicked woman.
      Asha explained to me as the fight drew on that the woman we faced was a mage named Alsbeth. That meant nothing to me since I've never heard of a woman named Alsbeth, although it seemed that she was someone of importance at one point by Asha's expression of dismay. It was almost as if Asha felt saddened by having to fight the corrupt woman. As I parried the net of dark magic that Alsbeth threw at the group, I kept glancing uneasily at the sky. We were taking too long. I knew that the longer the Temporal Flux and the Failsafe was running the stronger was our risk of gaining Regulos's attention and that was something I seriously did not want to happen. Maybe someday when I am strong enough I could face Regulos with impunity and take him down (I snorted in disbelief), but right now, I was nothing but a newly reborn elf in a strange body, in a strange situation, who didn't really have a firm grasp on her abilities, her beliefs, or her ideals. I felt like a leaf in the wind, being blown from one destination to the next without really alighting on anything solid. If I ever finish this mission successfully and get myself to the past I must better prepare myself for the tests I would face. Alsbeth sneered at me and chanted a dark spell. I gasped and quickly bound elemental energy to my form, creating an absorption shield to mitigate the damage. I could feel the pressure of the spell on my mind as it pushed for a weakness in my magical armor, but I held firm, hoping that my magic was stronger than hers. She may be a powerful mage with ties to Regulos, but she was no Ascended, resurrected with a specially created sourcestone body and woven through with multiple souls and strong new ties to the energy of the planes.

     I flung a bolt of ice at Alsbeth and while she was distracted by deflecting it, Asha finished the mage with her beautiful, deadly sword. The woman cried out in fury before falling to the ground. I leaned on my staff, heart in my throat. I had no idea if the woman was dead or not, but I didn't want to go over and investigate. That was most definitely intense. Without even a glance at the body, Asha raced over to Stavel.

     "Stavel, we're out of time. Get this portal open NOW!"
     "I'm working on it!" Stavel shouted back, no doubt frustrated. A pause, and than he said with relief, "the temporal matrix is stabilizing. It shouldn't be too much longer now."

     I sagged with relief myself. Finally, I can complete this mission. I couldn't wait to finally be done with this crazy adrenaline rush. It was one constant roll from point to point. I had no moment to rest, no moment to actually understand what happened to me. In a way, that was good because I didn't want to find myself depressed or sorrowful over my losses, but I would have liked a moment to say a last silent farewell to all the people I'd left behind when I'd died. Unless Regulos ate their souls....okay enough of that line of thought. Suddenly the sky went black. I shrank back uneasily, fingering my staff. Now what? Enormous pulsing tentacles, darker and more malevolent than before, appeared out of a rip in the air and thudded to earth all around us. I gasped. This was definitely not a good thing...

     "Did you mortals really think you could stop the power of Regulos?" The voice, dark and sinister and death incarnate, almost made my heart stop with fright. "Oh no. Oh no, no, no!" Desperately, I backed up, not wanting to awknowledge what I knew I saw. A monster hovered in the air where the mage Alsbeth had first appeared. Monster is the only way I could describe the thing that appeared. It wore the tattered remains of a dark colored robe, had long bony claws and a reptilian tail. And its face...was a nightmare to behold. Violet magic, the magic of death, burned in the eye sockets and the mouth was a vast cavern that promised death and agony to all. I whispered a prayer to anyone who would listen, glancing back to where Asha stood. She had gone pale, the strange blue runes glowing brightly against her ashen skin. "Oh no, Regulos!" She cried. How I heard her above the gale of death magic that swept the clearing, I've no idea. The form of Regulos glanced down at the body of his devoted follower with empty, emotionless eyes. If he felt anything toward her, contempt, disgust, regret, it didn't show on his monstrous face. Asha came up beside me and spoke in an urgent whisper, "I'll keep him busy while you go through the portal. Hurry, I don't know how long we can hold him back! Go, go!" I gawked at her. Surely she must be joking? Hold off Regulos? Where would she get such power? Regulos would squash her. I would have laughed if I wasn't afraid it would come out half mad and hysterical. This was just too much. I was overwhelmed by everything. And now, Regulos, the Destroyer. Right here, in front of me. I had at one point wished for adventure, for intrigue, heroic battles, the chance to study the world and learn all I could. Obviously someone out there was playing a cruel joke. Before I could actually awknowledge Asha's command, she turned and squared her shoulders. Her chin went up and she drew her rune-etched sword.

     "What made you think you would ever defeat us without a fight, monster!?" She yelled in challenge at the creature in front of her. The avatar of Regulos shifted until it faced her, staring down at her in all his entropic glory. I may have squeaked. But I won't admit to it. As Regulos fixed his attention on Asha and the centurions she's brought with her, I carefully sidled away from the group. I knew that Asha was sacrificing herself in the hope that our mission could still succeed. Behind the bloated body of Regulos, the Failsafe Device hummed and whirred. A jagged strip of light appeared, tearing wider kind of like a ripped seam. A ripped seam in the fabric of reality, I thought distantly as I watched, unable to tear my eyes away. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Asha make a strange gesture with her free hand. A beam of strange, glowing light shot from her sword and struck Regulos above the breastbone. The monster reared back slightly, as if in pain, and I wondered again where Asha Catari, a humble Eth woman, could have gotten so much vast power that she could threaten the Destroyer of worlds himself. Of course, even as I watched, the beam thinned to a trickle. Unfortunately, her power appeared to come with a price and was not unlimited. Regulos grinned, displaying a mouth full of elongated vampiric teeth. It made me cold all the way to my toes. A beam of violet death magic struck back at Asha, meeting her own magic midway and fizzling as the two magics fought for supremacy. Vaguely, I heard Stavel shout, "Okay, the Temporal Matrix is stabilized but I don't know how long I can hold it open! Get through the time machine now!" I glanced back and sure enough, the rip in time had become larger, large enough to allow someone of my height through. It had also changed color, turning such a brilliant white that it hurt the eyes to stare at. I glanced between the time machine and Asha, who appeared to be losing the battle of magic between herself and Regulos. She noticed my glance and glared at me. "You heard him, Defiant! Only you can stop this. Get through that portal and make sure that this never happens! Go!" I glanced up at the monstrous embodiment of death, who was struggling to disengage with Asha so that he could deal with me, a petty, insignificant threat. But I could see real concern in his aura now.

     I took a deep breath. The air was hot and tainted, tasting sharply of death and entropy. It felt like it was becoming harder to breathe. I coughed, choking on the thick evil in the air. The sky was entirely black, no glimpse of light could be seen. A shadow of a great ashen dragon came into being inside the death rift, rearing up on its hind legs with a wingspan to blot out the sun. It fixed its beady eyes on me, victory dancing in their depths. Not if I could help it! Not knowing what to expect, or if I would even survive such a journey through time, I dashed for the portal. Behind me, Regulos shrieked, an inhuman, draconic sound that made my ears bleed. There was a blinding flash of light; Asha cried out, a sound of mortal pain. I flinched but did not look back. The blinding white light encompassed my entire field of vision. I saw nothing beyond white. Blinding white brilliance even behind the protection of my eyelids. I felt like my brain was on fire. I was falling. There was no sense of direction, no sense of self. Nothing. I was nothing. Did Regulos kill me after all? 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

[Books and Artifacts] V: An Analysis of Goblin Titles and Aliases

     When the original goblin invaders migrated to Telara when the Blood Storm invaded, they walked upon Maelforge's planetouched aura. This maintained their flamebound forms, sustained their life essentially unchanged from how they exist in the fiery lands.
When Maelforge was imprisoned, and the Ward placed Telara into harmony with the planes, most of the invading goblins were dissipated. But a few remained. These underwent what must have been a frightening transformation for them. These creatures of flame and heat were transmuted to flesh and blood, and all the attendant processes that go along with that. This appears to have been the dominant cultural event for the goblins, and not for the better.
Since they gained mortal form they have become obsessed with the functioning of their new fleshy bodies, especially the more unpleasant and violent aspects of it. Spitting and defecating are of interest, but less so than blood, bile and other fluid spilling out of a wound. The more violent the cause of the fluid the more important its event.
Where elves have taken on names of nature that inspires them, and Mathosians keep detailed family genealogies, goblins search endlessly for new bodily fluids to name themselves after, the viler and more disgusting the better.

     So in essence, goblins were forced to adapt a "do or die" attitude when it came to survival on Telara. They had been created/born on a different plane of existence, one full of fire and brimstone and molten heat, and now suddenly found themselves bereft, on an alien planet with alien beings. I think if they had been given the chance they MAYBE might have joined the native Telarans in fighting back against the dragon brood like the Shalastiri did, but it seemed that since they had sided with and fought with the enemy dragon, the natives of Telara would never work with or trust the goblins. So instead, they disappeared underground, some quite literally; building cavernous catacombs and chambers, where they could be closer to the heat and oppression of the earth. Maybe it reminded them more of their home plane? They undergone much change in the thousands of years they were trapped on Telara, and became smaller and weaker. When the Ward fell and the planes were once again allowed to intersect with Telara, invasions and expeditions from the planes brought goblins native to the Plane of Fire back. One such tribe of goblins was the Gedlo Conclave, which was a powerful leading tribe in the plane. Seeing how changed and weakened the goblins were on Telara, the Gedlo easily and immediately seized leadership of them, directing them in attacks on Telaran citizens, whipping them into a frenzy that hadn't been seen in quite some time. The goblins, who revere strength and violence and brute force, eagerly welcomed the Gedlo as their new leadership and blindly followed them in their desire to cause as much chaos and destruction as possible on Telara as well as free their master Maelforge.

And here's an artifact set that emphasizes the fact that goblins were once different then what they are now, and were transformed by Telara. I guess that means they are native Telarans now like the rest of us? Kind of how the Shalastiri stayed and were changed into the Bahmi.
  • The Gedlo Conclave-The ancient goblins were born of fire, but long ago became soft and mortal creatures of flesh. The Gedlo Conclave has arrived from the Planes to change that.
    • Toxin smeared rag
    • Fire runes
    • Planar lodestone
    • Dragon shell necklace

References: This is taken directly from a book located in the game of Rift. All information and words belong to Trion, I have no say! The book is a reward for completing the artifact set "An Analysis of Goblin Titles and Aliases"-An analysis by Professor Bedstraw. The artifact information for Gedlo Conclave is from an artifact I found while questing in Gloamwood. I had no idea that the goblins underwent such a drastic change when they were on Telara. I guess during the Age of Dragons they were stuck on Telara after the Ward sealed off the Planes and they had no choice but to adapt or die, and such pure planar beings as how they were would have perished in Telara's post-Ward atmosphere so they needed forms that would survive.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

[Raeslyn's Story] 2.15: Scotty's Empowerment

     Cerys Amare was outside on the Inn steps talking to a man when I walked up. The man turned, gave me a cursory glance, than walked away. It took me a few seconds to realize he was an Ascended. I nearly shouted after him, but I wouldn't have had anything to say anyway. But the idea of talking to another Ascended settled inside of me and I realized that although I had the entire Guardian faction at my beck and call, I was lonely. I felt apart from everyone because of my new status and it would be nice to have more Ascended to talk to and communicate with. I clamped down on this desire, not wanting to look foolish, but the yearning was still there. Perhaps I could join one of the many unique guilds that had sprang up since the Shade Wars. I'd heard that a lot of the licensed guilds were Ascended specific. Although that brought with it's own unique challenges as I'm sure a guild would expect me to play my part in the group and I still liked the idea of having the freedom to make my own choices. Something to think about then.

     The Spirit Guide honored you, Raeslyn!" Cerys cried delightedly when I'd explained what had happened at the Mirror of Ages and showed her the tiny seed pod that had been left for me. I nearly winced at Cerys's exuberance. "This seedling's not of this world I'm certain. It is steeped in the magic of the Fae, the Plane of Life. Where Greenscale draws his power from. We need to investigate this and see how far Greenscale's magic has spread in Silverwood!" She handed the seedling back to me and I stored it away in a pouch on my belt, nodding. I already knew as much. Cerys fidgeted, glancing after the retreating male Ascended with a distracted air of worry, and I finally sighed, annoyed with her lack of attention.

     "You seem distracted, is something wrong?" I asked finally when she looked over again. Cerys blinked, looking startled, then smiled at me with the look of someone who just came up with a fantastic idea. I braced myself.

     "Actually, Raeslyn, there is a bit of trouble." I nodded, encouraging her to go on, although inside I was thinking 'aha, I knew it!'. Cerys clasped her hands together. "If you wouldn't mind, could you venture out toward the Untamed Copse to check on something for me before following up this Fae lead? My last duty was to see off a caravan of Quicksilver College researchers heading there but my sources-" here she glanced again at the retreating Ascended man, "-tell me that they never arrived. I would investigate it myself but we're stretched thin as it is and well, you are so much stronger then us if something has gone wrong." She wrung her hands with worry as she gazed at me, pleading. I scowled. If this caravan hasn't checked in by now, everyone is obviously dead, I knew that, and likely Cerys knew that, but I could understand wanting to be sure. Those at Quicksilver were so foolish, so enamored by their research and findings that they forgot the world was a big, dangerous place. Finally I sighed.
     "Alright, I'll go take a look, but you have to expect the worst." I warned. Cerys' face lit up like a Fae Yule tree and she bowed. "Thank you Ascended!" She exclaimed in loud delight and I winced, glancing around. A random citizen passing by stopped and stared in awe at us. I sighed in aggravation.
     "Where did your report say they were last?" I asked Cerys, wanting to get this over with. She gave instructions and I nodded, waving at her and taking off to the north for the Untamed Copse, a section of forest that was notorious for its dangerous attributes. About half an hour's quick dash from the college I found signs of the caravan. Or what was left of it. Burned debris and chunks of wood lay scattered among the trees, and casks of spilled supplies were scattered around. The remains of a campfire in the center allowed me to test how old the site was, but the embers were cold.

    "Thank the Vigil you found me!" The loud exclamation had me jumping about a mile in the air. Before the intruder could even blink, I had a dagger to his throat, tensely eyeing the undergrowth for any other threats. The man who'd been speaking froze, looking at me wide eyed. Eventually I relaxed my guard and tucked away my daggers and the man rubbed his neck, still gazing at me wide eyed. "You were saying?" I asked him sharply.
     The man took a deep breath, still looking shaky. "I-It was horrible, Ascended lady! The Aelfwar came in the night. My friends were slaughtered mercilessly." He clutched his throat again, looking around in fright.

     "It's ok. It's fine, your safe now." I said awkwardly to assure him. Obviously he wasn't buying it though. "What uh, exactly were you researching way out here anyway?" I asked, just to distract him from the horrors he'd witnessed. The man blinked at me, then seemed to remember.

     "Oh! We were investigating the Wrath Weeds. Well, we don't know what they are actually called, but we call them Wrath Weeds. They are a strange new plant that has been seen here in the Copse. They seem to grow in abundance around this area for some reason and they contain a strange dark aura. We were studying these plants when the Aelfwar jumped us. In fact...the Aelfwar had the same dark energy feel as the plants did. I wonder if there is a connection there..." the man trailed off in distraction, the allure of a new puzzle making him momentarily forget his predicament. I coughed to bring him back to the here and now.

     "I don't think it's a good idea for you to be out here right now. Head back to the college where you can be safe and forget about your silly research." I told him sharply as I looked around the debris of the destroyed caravan. I wrinkled my nose in disgust but otherwise remained silent as I came across a butchered body behind a tree. Best not to alarm the guy any more than he already was. The man nodded, grabbed a few items from the wreckage, and set out in the direction of Quicksilver college after a hesitant glance at me.

     "What fools." I muttered to myself as I ventured further into the copse looking for clues. I came across another body a few minutes from the initial site. This body was mostly skeletal, causing me to cover my nose. By the Vigil! If I had to guess, I'd say that they had been unknowingly led further from the path into Aelfwar territory by the goblins, horrid creatures, and the Aelfwar had attacked the caravan, feeling threatened. I continued further and nearly ran into a satyr that had been standing alertly near a fallen log. Whoa, that was close. I backed up slowly and silently, praying he wouldn't notice me. Satyrs were large, solidly build creatures with a good head of horns. I did not want to mess with one if I could help it. I backed up and then turned and quickly walked back to the site of the destroyed caravan. I could see now the plants that the researcher was going on about. Large, red, strange looking ferns were growing all over the place now that I was paying attention. The spikey ferns were unnatural and seemed to have a sinister aura about them. I knew just the person in Quicksilver who would be able to tell me more about what they were doing here. Careful to avoid actually touching the plant, I plucked a few stems up and wrapped them in a stray cloth I found under some wood. I also found a few bottles of light colored wine unharmed among the wreckage and grabbed them up too, shrugging with amusement. No sense letting good wine go to waste, was there? After studying the bottles, I was doubly amused to realize that it was the finest Galena wine in Silverwood, an alcoholic beverage that was quite popular in Argent Glade. In fact, these had the stamp of the Blunted Quill on them. I tucked the bottles away into my packs, putting cloth around them so they wouldn't break. If they were able to survive all this, they deserved to be brought back with me, I reasoned to myself with a grin.

     Back in Argent Glade, I gave a simplified version of what had happened to the caravan to Cerys, who looked so saddened and horrified that I wisely didn't mention the state of the second corpse I'd found. She nodded and headed back inside the Inn. I gave her the bottles of wine I'd saved and told her to return them to barkeep while she was at it and she gazed at me with a mystified expression.

     "What?" I asked sharply, crossing my arms. She just looked at me and I turned and left without another word. Whatever.

     I found Professor Thellium Bedstraw, my old professor of nature, discussing the importance of learning survival techniques to a group of attentive students, a mix of elves and humans, with one dwarf. That reminded me of my fondness for Scotty and I wondered what he was up to lately. I hadn't seen him in over a week as I ran errands for the Guardians and investigated Hylas's treachery and I was looking forward to seeing the little guy again. Little. Ha. I snickered as I waited silently for Bedstraw to finish up his lecture. After the students wandered off to practice their lesson, I showed the professor the strange spikey plant and explained where I'd found it. He took his cue from me and didn't touch it directly, instead eyeing it from the side and rubbing it with the cloth thoughtfully. I stood patiently, knowing my old teacher well enough not to interrupt him.

     "These weeds are bursting with planar energy." He finally said, looking at me with concern. I nodded, having suspected as much. "It comes from the Untamed Copse, you say? This magic is stronger then even Hylas should be playing with. Something terrible has come to Silverwood, my dear, and I'm afraid these weeds are only the beginning of it." I slumped.

     "I was afraid you'd say that." I muttered, grimacing. Now what should I do? We needed to find a way to prevent these weeds from strangling the natural flora of Silverwood, but we also needed to continue keeping the goblins at bay, as well as find out what Hylas was up to lately, being holed up in his keep the whole time meant that he had some scheme in mind no doubt. So much to get done. Not for the first time I felt frustrated, feeling like I was the only one able to do anything effective around here. It was obvious that the Guardians had their hands full fighting off the Defiant and keeping other threats out of the wood, but that wasn't enough. We needed to get to the heart of the problem. We needed to launch an attack on this Realm of the Fae and deal with that problem, and attack Overwatch Keep and deal with Hylas. I felt like things were quickly coming to a head here and I couldn't keep up.

     Bedstraw seemed to sense my mounting frustration, for he lay a gentle hand on my shoulder, drawing my attention back to him. "One thing at a time, yes?" He said, eyes filled with understanding. It was weird seeing my old teacher looking at me with a look like that. Usually I just earned looks of disappointment and exasperation while I was in school. On the days that I didn't skip anyway. I took a breath and nodded.

     "Well I started off by trying to get rid of the goblin threat, so there is that. But I don't know what to do to make them leave. They're like cockroaches!" I said, feeling frustration fill me again.

    "I can help with that," Bedstraw commented. "There are rumors of the goblin leader, named Gutter, being holed up in the north. I've heard tell that he carries something of immense planar power. I'd say that he's carrying around a token of Maelforge, as the dragon of fire is the goblin patron. Goblins only ever respond to displays of power and I bet that's how Gutter is keeping them here in Silverwood. They usually prefer dark, dank recesses of the world, not our sunny forest. If we can remove Gutter from the picture, it should drive the goblins out of the wood." I tapped my dagger handles thoughtfully. That seemed sound. And I'd have to tackle the goblins sooner or later anyway. I might as well get this threat out of the way. But no way would I be able to tackle a goblin leader without backup. I nodded at Bedstraw and headed back into Argent. As I was leaving the college grounds, I kept an eye out for Scotty. Strangely, I didn't see him in his usual spot, but I did see Fiona and her crew. She seemed to be arguing with a dwarf that looked from this distance to be Scotty's cousin, what was his name again? I walked up.

     "Hey, is there a problem here?" I asked as I approached the group. Fiona scowled at me and I raised an eyebrow at her. Bring it on little girl. Scotty's cousin turned pleading eyes on me. "Yes! Fiona is up to her dirty tricks again! She sent Scotty on some stupid crusade to save some squirrels. Only it's just a prank and they got him into some real danger!" The dwarf glared accusingly at Fiona, who made a show of buffing her nails. "Ha, it's not my fault the fool is so gullible. Even for a freshman!" I made a noise of irritation and glared at Fiona. "I thought you learned your lesson last time Fiona? Where is he?" She pouted a little, but eventually told me where to find the poor dwarf.

     I can't believe these young students, pulling these kinds of pranks on their fellows. Silverwood was in a state of flux right now and we needed the next generation to be smart and sensible, and here we have people pulling pranks on other students. Where were their teachers, for goddess sake? I mumbled the whole way down to the riverside, where Fiona had told me she'd sent Scotty. As I got closer, I could see the little dwarf crouched at the water's edge, intently staring at something. I felt relief. At least he looked ok.

     "Scotty? Hey Scotty!" I called out as I got closer so I didn't startle him. I always hate it when people startle me. Scotty looked over his shoulder and his face lit up. "Lady Raeslyn!" He exclaimed in happy innocence. He was clutching some kind of strange wooden whistle with runes on the side. Beside him stood an ancient wooden shrine covered in similar runes. It wasn't anything I could understand. Distantly, I wondered what it was for. The shrine seemed ancient. Like Age of Legends ancient.  Scotty waited until I'd come up to him.

    "Hello, Raeslyn Ascended. I bet your here to help me save the squirrels!" He held up the wooden whistle like it was the answer to all his troubles. "What is that thing?" I asked. "Where did you get it?" Scotty looked it over proudly. "Oh wait," I answered myself. "Don't tell me, Fiona gave it to you?" Scotty nodded, oblivious to my sarcasm.

     "Isn't it great?" He asked happily. "I've always been worried about the animals of the forest, they seem so scarce lately." Obviously I thought darkly, the Fae probably either ate them or scared them off. But I didn't want to scare Scotty so I kept silent, just nodded. "And Fiona offered to give this to me so I could help the squirrels find happiness and have baby squirrels!" I rubbed my nose. "Seriously Scotty? You believe her? She's just setting you up to--hey wait!" I tried reaching out for him but it was too late, Scotty blew the whistle and I groaned. "Scotty! Don't you have any common sense!" I glared at him. He gave me a hurt look. "Come on Scotty, you can't be that naïve. Fiona just wanted to humiliate you. Give me that!" I snatched the whistle from the dwarf and placed it in a pocket. Scotty glanced around expectantly, as if waiting for dozens of squirrels to start coming out of the woodwork. I sighed at him. Suddenly, the water rippled behind him. I slowly reached out and tugged Scotty back.

    "Uh...I don't think this is the best way to get my geomancy degree." I heard Scotty mutter forlornly from next to me as the world's ugliest fish suddenly exploded out of the water. I shoved Scotty out of the way and dived in the other direction as it lunged at us. Even though the creature had arms and legs, it seemed reluctant to leave the water, instead lunging as far as it could at us jagged rows of teeth snapping and snarling in a frenzy.

    "Oh, I bet that's a Siltreaver!" Came Scotty's unhelpful voice from the other side of the thing. The creature swung it's head toward the dwarf and I quickly jabbed it with a dagger to keep it's attention. Poor Scotty had no defense. The Siltreaver, or whatever it was, roared in fury and reared up onto land. A long whip like tail lashed out and I heard a grunt from Scotty. I hope he was ok, but I didn't have time to check. I had my hands full of fish. The creature was clumsy and awkward on land, but it was large and strong. It got in a good hit on my leg before I could get out of reach, clawing up my thigh and ripping my leathers. It crashed down on its stomach with its face pretty much in my lap and I frantically tried to keep the jaws from closing around my face. In desperation, I punched it with the hilt of a dagger. One beady eye stared right into me. With the weight of the creature trapping my legs, I couldn't move or maneuver, so I did what I could. I stabbed the fish creature in the eye, burying my dagger to the hilt in desperation seconds before it could bite my face off. The stench of rotten fish engulfed me as the creature suddenly slumped, pinning me down fully with its scaly weight. I let myself lay there for a moment, stunned. Dark, salty liquid oozed from the creature's eye onto my chest and I grimaced. That is disgusting. After gaining my breath back, I managed to get my arms under the body and heave it off me with a grunt. The large creature slid bonelessly to a stop at the edge of the riverbank. As my heartbeat slowed to a normal pace, the sting in my thigh announced itself and I reached down and touched the ragged rips gently. The blood was already slowing thanks to my accelerated healing rate, but it still hurt something fierce and I had half a mind to do the same thing to Fiona. I gasped. Scotty!

     I rolled to my feet, feeling a bit shaky at first, and glanced around to where I'd last seen the young dwarf. Scotty was face down in the mud, pale, and my heart leapt into my throat again. Oh gods, was he dead? I scrambled over to his prone form and before I could reach out to him, the dwarf moaned and muttered something in his own dialect. He slowly got to his knees and shook his head woozily. "Ouch, that beast packed a mean punch. I don't think anything is broken..." He finally muttered. I relaxed and chuckled. "Sucker punched by a fish eh?" I teased, relieved. Scotty gave me a reproachful glance, before grinning too. "Ya, I guess so. Looks like those hooligans fooled me again, huh? I'll get my revenge sometime." He turned and inspected my handiwork. The creature lay like some dead mutated fish that had been out in the sun for a week and Scotty turned pale again, this time from sickness. "That thing's disgusting." He remarked into the silence.

     I helped Scotty up the river bank and we trudged back into town both feeling tired and covered in mud. Scotty went back to his dorm at the college and I headed for the Inn for a quick bath. After that, I purchased a new set of clothing and sold my old leather trousers for whatever I could get. I guess that was a good excuse to get new armor. After I'd had myself measured for the tailor to get working on crafting my armor, I put on some plain clothes and headed back to the college to give Fiona a piece of my mind. My wet hair curled around my ears and my thigh still twanged slightly from the pain it had experienced earlier, though the wound was mostly healed now. Just long pink lines where the creature's claws had raked me. I entered the college grounds just as a young woman went running past, shrieking bloody murder.

    "Fiona?" I asked to thin air as she rushed by. Ok, that was weird. Peering in the direction she'd come from, I was quite surprised indeed to see a gigantic Scotty bearing toward me. I hastily leaped out of the way and watched with bemusement as Scotty chased the now tiny Fiona around the college grounds. I looked around to see what the professors thought of this, only to see them nodding with approval. Huh, so even they knew about the hard time Scotty was having fitting in. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Scotty's cousin approach. What was his name again? Murbo?

     "Fiona's latest prank really made Scotty mad. Not because he could have been killed, but because he felt she'd put innocent animals in danger." The dwarf supplied to me as he stood beside me watching Scotty chase Fiona. It looked like a giant cat playing with a mouse. I raised an eyebrow at Murbo. He nodded at my expression. "Yup, that's Scotty for you. So he got one Professor Brightridge to make him a wand of empowerment, and then he got another student to enchant it to make him super big, and..well, there ya go." I chuckled. That was actually rather clever. Maybe Scotty will make it here after all. Turning serious, Murbo laid his hand on my leg, the closest thing the shorter man could reach.

    "I'd like to thank you for all you've done for Scotty, Lady Raeslyn." I made to protest and he raised a hand. "I know you didn't have to do it. You're a busy member of the Guardians after all, tracking down killers and helping to protect Silverwood from the Aelfwar. Ya, I know about them. I keep my ears open. But anyway, Scotty considers you a good friend of his, and I do too. Scotty and I wish you the best in your travels. Stay safe and if you ever want to join the college, we'll let you copy our notes!" Murbo grinned at my look of disapproval and scampered away before I could find a reply. His words had more of an impact on me than I'd care to admit and I inconspicuously wiped a bit of wetness at my eyes. I'd never had anyone call me a friend before. It felt good.