Friday, July 26, 2013

[Off Topic] Summerfest Begins!

Welcome Back, Summerfest!
     Wow, I can't believe it's been a whole year since the last Summerfest already! (Duh, obviously it's been a whole year, Verhysa! Summer only comes once a year, after all). I remember doing last year's awesome Summerfest events and quests and fun stuffs! I also remember all the frustration and irritation lots of peeps were feeling during last year's event. Thankfully, I never experienced any of the problems that a lot of others were facing during 2012's Summerfest, although I do remember having some difficulty with a quest in Moonshade Highlands during Summerfest. I'm pretty sure it was that holiday anyway. But anyway, on with the new stuffs! Speaking about being an entire year...It's been an entire year nearly to the day since I started this blog! Can you believe it!!!??? I started it on July 25th of 2012 and here I am an entire year later and still going strong! I'm so proud of myself for sticking to it, and I'm glad I started this blog because I've learned a lot about Rift and had a lot of fun writing it! I look forward to another whole year of the same! :)
     I am a bit late in updating this post, despite having put it up on the day the event came out, mostly because I was dead tired on the 26th and wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed and sleep, and also because I hadn't had a chance to experience anything of this event yet so there wasn't much to write. Now though, I can happily say that I'm eager and ready to have fun during the fest! First thing I noticed when I logged in was that the daily and weekly patron gift thingies have changed to now say "daily/weekly Summerfest patron gifts". Note the Summerfest part of that. I'm still a little confused on the whole patron/credits/rex/loyalty stuff. Actually, I'm dreadfully confused, so I just ignore most of the stuff that I find in my gift box. It doesn't make any sense to me and maybe at some later date when I have time or the inclination, I'll go through my entire bags and my bank and organize everything and figure out what all this stuff that I keep getting from the store is. But in the meantime, onto the actual Summerfest stuffs!
     When you log in on the day that the Summerfest event goes live, you get a little note in your mailbox from Shyla Starhearth that goes like this:
" Greetings (name),
Blessings of the Vigil upon you. Through the grace of the gods, the summer season has arrived.
We Guardians celebrate this season in a variety of ways. But by far most popular is the annual scavenger hunts! Come see me in Thontic's Row for more details!"

Key Features:
  • Kargath: Apparently this big, creepy lookin' dude named Swarmlord Kargath is on the warpath. His name is quite befitting his appearance, which resembles the outcome of a splicing of human and insect DNA. Surprisingly, it doesn't look that bad. Maybe because I have a thing for guys with wings. So sue me? Anyway, apparently Kargath has decided to swarm. He's gathering all his minions and unleashing hell on earth-rather Telara-and we Ascended have to stop him. Typical. Us Ascended are always solving everyone else's problems.
  • Scavenger Hunts: I remember those from last year! Those are what I was talking about with the quests in each zone. There are multiple tiers of hunts, each being released in different phases and should be tons of fun to experience! You get to do fun events in each of the hunts, with unique clues and interesting results. I remember one of last year's scavenger hunts was to kiss Prince Hylas. He didn't like that very much though...
  • Rare Mini Pets: Woot, I am an avid collector of mini pets in any game. In WoW I have like 500 of em. In Rift, only about 10, mostly because I've been so busy doing a billion other things that I don't have time to go hunting for lil pets, cute though they are. Apparently the pets are back this Summerfest! Last year, I believe I only was able to find 2-3 of the rare pets that were said to be roaming each of the zones. I hope I can spot more this time around! Gotta catch em all, dontcha know?
  • Summerfest Gear: Apparently, we get swimsuits and other interesting beach-side attire this year. Swimsuits, bikinis, a special avian pet, all kinds of fun things available at the Rift store. This actually makes me happy and sad at the same time. I love that we can wear swim clothes now! Yay RP at the beach. But at the same time...the Rift shop? I hope that that's not the only place you can find them because I'd really love to get my hands on at least one type of swimsuit, but I'd rather not pay money or credits or whatever they cost in order to have one. The only game I actually paid real money for (excluding a subscription) is Forsaken World and I regret that lol.
  • Spoils of Summer: Apparently there's rewards and titles/achievements for camping out with your mates in the wilds during the Summerfest event. Sounds really cool and a nice way to get some RP going! I love any excuse for RP. :) Also, as you complete each of the Summerfest quests and missions, and close rifts and participate in the zone events, you can earn merit badges and friendship bracelets, which you can use to buy special rewards and seasonal items! Yay for neat seasonal rewards!
  • Win Credits: Apparently, if you log in during the first week of Summerfest, you have a higher chance of earning credits in your daily gift box/reward thingy. Also, if you're a Patron, you have an even higher chance of earning credits! I guess that explains the change in my gift box name now that I think about it.

There's two phases to Summerfest. Phase one is Beat the Heat and Phase two is Lazy Summer.
Phase One=Beat the Heat
       During Phase one, you have available lots of dailies, which you can complete to earn merit badges, which you can then use to buy stuff.

The main attraction though, is the Scavenger Hunt:
  • The Little Scavenger Hunt Part 1 (available during both phases, don't worry!)
    • Freemarch: Pucker up! - Find and kiss Jakob (Freemarch's main bad guy).
    • Silverwood: Hylas Need's a Hug - Find and give Hylas Aelfwar a hug (Greenscale's number one cultist guy and former leader of High Elves)
    • Stonefield: Troll Treasure - Find something valuable to a Troll...
    • Gloamwood: Tree of Wisdom - Exactly like it sounds
    • Scarlet Gorge: Human Barrel Ride - Go down a waterfall at the bottom of the map
  • The Great Scavenger Hunt Part 1 (This one is for higher levels!!)
    • Scarwood Reach: Plant Trees - self describing
    • Moonshade Highland: Swim With the Fishes - Swimming obstacle course
    • Iron Pine Peak: Missing Mountaineer - This one is a pain
    • Shimmersand: Deliver Ice Cream - Pretty easy if your high enough level
    • Stillmore: Lap Around Stillmore - Run around the zone
  • The Little Scavenger Hunt Part 2 (available during phase 2!)
    • Freemarch: Fabulous Fun Fishing in Freemarch - Here fishy fishy!
    • Silverwood: Save the Spirit Guide - Rescue mission
    • Stonefield: Grave Courage - I don't remember what this one was
    • Gloamwood: Delouse the Itchy Werewolves - Clean the infested wolf critters (there's never enough for everyone)
    • Scarlet Gorge: Gorging on Gold - I don't remember this one either
  • The Great Scavenger Hunt Part 2 (only available during phase 2!)
    • Scarwood Reach: Harpy Chow - I didn't do any of these challenges
    • Droughtlands: Puissant Paleontology
    • Moonshade Highlands: Attitude Adjustment
    • Iron Pine Peak: Locate the Book of Riddles- I actually remember this one, it was kinda fun in a way, but confusing
    • Shimmersand: Beachcombing for the Discerning Vacationist
    • Stillmore: Stillmore Sparkles
Achievements for Summerfest:
  1. Summer of Love- Complete Silverwood and Freemarch Part 1 Scavenger Hunt challenges.
  2. Stillmore Thoroughbred- Complete Stillmore's Part 1 challenge
  3. Riddle Me This- Complete Iron Pine Peak's Part 2 Scavenger Hunt challenge.
  4. Live Strong- Complete Moonshade Highland's Part 2 Hunt challenge
    1. Reward: the title "the Aggressive"
  5. Flea-Bitten Menace- Complete Gloamwood's Part 2 challenge
  6. Fun in the Sun- A meta achievement that requires a completed list of things.
    1. Summertime Scavengry- Complete all the Summerfest Scavenger Hunts
    2. Not So Lazy Summer- Complete 20 Summerfest quests
    3. Angling for the Top- Catch 100 summer sunfish
    4. Exterminator- Squish 300 bugs while doing the daily quest "Bug Squishing"
There are also a bunch of mini pets to find in the open world of Telara. Here's a list of the ones that I know of. I don't know if there are more or not.
  • Spotted Snake-Freemarch
  • Black Bunny-Silverwood
  • Brown Rat-Stonefield
  • Tamed Deepfang Hatchling-Gloamwood
  • Scoots-Scarlet Gorge
  • Black Coyote- Scarwood Reach
  • Tabby Cat-Moonshade Highlands
  • Mini Mordant-Droughlands
  • White Squirrel-Iron Pine Peak
  • Green Cobra-Shimmersand
  • Jewel Scarab-Stillmore

     We have various daily quests available in Meridian (and Sanctum if you're Guardian) that have you do all sortsa random things. Even Sylver Valis has joined in all the fun, although it appears he's not too happy about it. It seems he's been forced into coming outside to get a bit of fresh air. Imagine that. Dailies involve making Sunfish Po'boy (Raeslyn's favorite treat but not mine), fishing for summer sunfish near sunfish plants, making sunfish lures-presumably to catch the sunfish with-, and doing a race outside of Meridian. There's also quests available from Sylver, titled "Little Scavenger Hunt Part 1" and "Great Scavenger Hunt Part 1". Obviously there's going to be a Part 2 when the next phase of the event hits. I remember that much from last year. I wonder if I get to do all the same quests all over again the same as last year, or are they varied slightly maybe? Are there different achieves and titles too I wonder?? I think last year I got the title beach bum. I think. Not a very inspiring title, to be sure, but meh. I love titles. I'll go more into detail into the event itself later when it's not 2am and when I don't have to work 12 hours the next day.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

[Lore] XIX: Silverwood

   When the world of Telara had been created, Tavril the nature goddess, desired to have protectors and guardians of the sacred places, and to uphold her beliefs. She called the Elves of the world together in the forest of Tavra, in Silverwood. At the holy place now called the Mirror of Ages, she made with the Elves of the land a covenant. They would forever defend the untamed places of Telara in return for many gifts. Though the Elves kept to their cause through the age of prosperity, the Age of Dragons, and the chaos that came after, wandering to the far reaches of the world, they always kept Silverwood in their hearts as their home.
     Silverwood remains mostly untouched by the defilement of the cultists and dragons through the years, mostly through the dedication of the High Elves who have watched over it, retreating back to their beloved wood when the world became a dangerous and unstable place. Their numbers dwindled but they held fast in Silverwood, keeping the promise they had made to the goddess. Silverwood is a beautiful and rich forest backed on one side by high mountains and the other side by the deep waters of the sea. It is strategically sound for the Guardians, which is one of the reasons it was chosen for their base of operations. It is home to all manner of wild creatures, including wolves, vespids, squirrels, rabbits, fish, shamblers and boglings. Many different races can be seen here, but the most predominant are the High Elves and their brethren who have made Silverwood their home. The trees are towering giants, hundreds of years old, and the forest is thick with powerful magic and wisdom.

     Silverwood is home to the capital of the Guardians, Sanctum. It's the first "zone" that the Guardians are introduced to after their battle at Thedeor Field and fighting off Aedraxis and Regulos. Quicksilver College, the most prominent location for training and learning, is also located in Silverwood, and subjects such as history and culture are taught by prominent High Elves to many races. Many different types of magic are studied and taught at Quicksilver, as well as studies on nature and the Planes. Cyril Kalmar, the main leader of the Guardians, can usually be found in Sanctum. Silverwood is one of the most heavily defended of the zones on Telara for many reasons. It is the most frequented zone by players, it is always populated by those who are creating new characters, are starting over, or are new to the game, so there is always plenty of characters running around the wood. It also has a heavy Guardian presence, which means many more guards and soldiers than other zones, which are more loosely controlled and are constantly under attack from both the Planes and the Defiant. Silverwood is located directly opposite of Freemarch, the starting zone for the Defiant. It's easy to get from one zone to the other by swimming across the bay.
     Another important location of note in Silverwood is the Mirror of Ages. This is found to the northwest of Quicksilver, closer to Gloamwood. The Mirror of Ages is a sacred place for all High Elves, and probably quite a few of the other Guardian races as well. In the center of the grove is a beautiful pool of water in its purest form. Out of the water rises an ancient petrified statue of the first prophet of Tavril. The Mirror of Ages and the statue have long been a place of peace and sanctuary for pilgrims and initiates of Tavril's ways. If one is worthy, one can even hear Tavril's response as whispers among the green canopies overhead. Unfortunately, because the Mirror of Ages is such a sacred place, it has recently become a target of House Aelfwar in their bid to take over Silverwood and topple the civilizations of man.

     The main threat to Silverwood that you have to neutralize is House Aelfwar, led by the traitorous Prince Hylas Aelfwar, a High Elf who turned his back on Tavril and the Vigil and formed a pact with the dragon Greenscale. As you play through the story, you are given more information on both Hylas and his tragic love story with the High Priestess Shyla, who is one of the current leaders of the Guardians. You also gain a bit of information on why Hylas turned from the gods and how he was corrupted. Hylas would do anything to protect what he considers the last sacred bastion of nature on Telara, even going so far as to ally with the Fae and welcome them into the wood, outlawing the use of cold iron because Faeries hate it. Silverwood is also the home of a dungeon called "Realm of the Fae". This is the first dungeon that Guardian players come across in the game and is located physically in Silverwood in the North by the hedgerow mazes, inside an old well.

     Silverwood is also on the border of the notorious and doomed city of Port Scion, which was one of the main points of contention between the Guardians and the Defiants and a place of extreme loss and tragedy. Port Scion is sealed and inaccessible to an adventurer, but you can stop at the edge of Silverwood to the West and see its high walls.

     Even without the Aelfwar, Silverwood faces other threats. The goblins are pouring in by the dozens from the northern haunted forest of Gloamwood, being driven out of their native home by an unknown menace and attacking and destroying anything they can in Silverwood. Their leaders are bloodthirsty, violent and determined agents of the dragon of fire, Maelforge.

A note to Hylas from Twyl:
My dear Prince Hylas,
“Though you have called me enemy, the birds and beasts tell me of your woes. As a fellow guardian of the wild, my heart goes out to you. I too know the sting of a loved one’s betrayal. Your Priestess Shyla has always been too eager to spend her time with the Mathosians. Now she has returned from the dead and claimed this was the work of your gods, and yet… there is but one force I know that can animate the dead, and his name is Regulos.
We need not be enemies, O Prince. We share a common love of nature and the pristine wild, and a common loathing of the Guardians, who manage to blend the stink of death with the pomposity of religion. You remind me very much of the magnificent Fae— such as myself— who hail from the deepest parts of the Plane of Life. Even now, I have access to power that would save your beautiful Silverwood with ease. You need only ask.”
~~A kindred spirit, Twyl, Lord of the Fae
   And here is a list of artifact sets that I found that relate to Silverwood or those that live here. I love finding little snippets of lore just by doing things like collecting artifacts or listening to the NPC's chat with each other!
  • Overwatch- The ancient keep was the ancestral power of the High Elves
    • Ancient Granite Rock
    • Satyre Beard Shavings
    • Discarded Tavril Psalms
    • Faerie Dust
    • Faer Seed Shell Fragment
    • Corrupted Fae Keystone Fragment
  • Hylas and Shyla- These tear-stained sonnets and personal correspondences have been scattered by the wind.
    • Shyla's letter to her father
    • An account of Hylas's coming of age
    • Shyla and Hylas's errant journey
    • Love in Overwatch Keep
    • The Shade War
    • Green eyed monster
  • The Arboreal War- Artifacts of a centuries-old war between goblins and elves
    • Rusted elven steel
    • Ancient arrowhead
    • Fossilized goblin tar
    • Ash-covered bones
    • Defiled elf-skull
    • Goblin slave harness
  • Prince Hylas Aelfwar- Once the prince of the elves, now turned traitor and heretic, he leads the House Aelfwar as the depraved cult of Greenscale.
    • Insignia of the First Order
    • Vial of Greenscale's blood
    • Wax seal of the prince
    • Shyla's locket
    • Concealable elven pugio
  • Silverwood- The forest of Silverwood is the ancient home of the High Elves and the location of the return of the Ascended Guardians.
    • Shyla's locket
    • The Dragons-the Adversary
    • Goblin slave harness
    • Blueprints for the Vault of Heresy
    • Corrupted Fae keystone fragment
    • Aelfwar treaty scrolls
    • Goblin heart jerky
    • Cyril's holy symbol of the Vigil
    • Journal of completed prophecy
    • Conclusion: Gross and Evil
    • Rothmann's Principia Conflagera
References: Just my own thoughts on Silverwood. Most of this is my own words of the description given about Silverwood in the old lore pages they used to have on the Rift site before they took them down. I'm not sure where the information went, but I recorded it in my notebook a while ago. The last bit, the letter to Hylas, is not my work, but belongs to Trion. The information on the Mirror of Ages and the first prophet can be found by talking to Cerys Amare standing in front of the Inn in outside Quicksilver. The artifact sets are easy enough to find, by simply looking for the shiny little lights all over Silverwood. Of course, the artifacts are all random but I had collected a whole bagful and was able to sift through them to find those relevant to Silverwood!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

[Raeslyn's Story]: Aelfwar Saga Part 1

A/N: I wasn't exactly sure where to put in this section of Raeslyn's story, but I knew it was important to her journey through Rift, and to the overall story arc that makes up our beloved world of Telara, so here it is, the details of Raeslyn's discovery of the conspiracy surrounding the Aelfwar and their wayward prince. I'll say this, I feel kind of bad for Hylas and I've sort of found him pretty cool, and I just wish that he and Shyla could have had a happy, resolved ending at the end of the story. It makes my heart ache at what she went through with her true love! Anyway, on to the story!

     I entered the Inner Sanctum of Sanctum, smirking slightly at the unoriginal name given to the seat of Guardian power. I'd been directed by a courier earlier to come straight away and meet with the Tribunal of Sanctum about the weighty matter of Hylas and what exactly we ought to do about him. I felt sort of a strange, anxious stirring in my gut that I didn't like in the slightest. Obviously I'd already set myself against my fellow Aelfwar just by the mere fact of becoming Ascended and being granted the gifts of the gods. Of course, I hadn't volunteered for the job, but that hardly matters in the long scheme, I suppose. I'd aligned myself with the Guardians, I'd actively thwarted Prince Hylas and his forces at every turn, and I'd tried my best to keep him from tearing Silverwood apart with this horrible nightmarish war he'd started against us. I just wish, so hard, that it wasn't me specifically, that had to deal with this now. But since I'd only recently recovered from a direct assault by Hylas, and knew the most about his latest scheme, I can imagine I was the best candidate for the job. Lucky me.

     Up the stairs and down a softly carpeted hallway I plodded, feeling the grim smile pulling at my lips that caused others to flinch and turn away nervously as I passed. That was fine, I wasn't in the mood for more "Hail, Ascended!" nonsense anyway. The courtroom for Sanctum was a large, wide room in the upper levels of the Inner Sanctum. Inside, three pretentious looking officials with stern faces were seated behind a curved table. I studied them silently as I settled in front of them. Two female elves and a male dwarf. I recognized the two women as Cardinal Alwan and Cardinal Fiach, from my time before, but I hadn't laid eyes on the dwarf before. He must have been elected after the Guardians officially took up their mantle, since our dealings with dwarves before the Shade War was very slight. I inclined my head in a respectful manner, which was all they were going to get from me. I wasn't afraid of these people. I was higher up in the pecking order then they were. Everyone knew the Ascended held the real power in Telara.
     The beautiful elven woman with long gold hair cleared her throat after the silence grew heavy and I lifted an eyebrow.

     "Greetings Ascended. Raeslyn Windrose, I believe?" She waited a brief moment and I nodded sharply. "We are the Tribunal of Sanctum. We three sit in judgment of those that would defy the gods. We determine if their offense is mere defiance, selfishness, or true heresy." I nodded again when she paused to give me a swift glance, trying not to look irritable. Of course I knew this, I wasn't a complete moron. She shuffled his papers and continued reading from them. "I am Cardinal Fiach, the Defender of the Covenant, and we've been going over your report of what's been happening in Silverwood as, well as reports from elsewhere on Aelfwar activity." I perked up, looking truly interested. Elsewhere? I wonder what else the Aelfwar was up to, and where? I opened my voice to ask, and the dwarf gave me a qualling glare. I scowled, but kept quiet. Fine.
     "These reports of horrible acts of violence on behalf of Prince Hylas are deeply troubling." Cardinal Fiach continued, after a look at her comrades. "What we want to know is, is this the work of a power-hungry ruler or a dragon cultist? We've had discussions of Hylas's character with various others who knew him before this.....disaster, and what we've learned is very distressing indeed." She pursed her lips and stared blankly at the table for a moment. Her female ally leaned over and placed a hand over hers, and I was struck by the truth that everyone mourned Hylas's actions, not just those of us who were close to the Aelfwar and their prince. All of us Elves were feeling the loss. I sighed, feeling my shoulders slump.

     Cardinal Fiach sighed as well. "The night when Shyla went off to join the Mathosians' civil war, the entire Elven council convened at the Mirror of Ages to discuss it. It wasn't a matter we took lightly." I knew that yes, but leaned forward slightly, feeling my heart pound. Maybe here was answers, finally. "Shyla was so passionate about it. She insisted fighting with the Zareph Mathos was the right call. It was our duty, she said, to fight back against such evil as Aedraxis. I remember never seeing Hylas so angry. He swore that it was our duty to uphold Tavril's will, to stay and protect the sacred forest. He would not listen to any of Shyla's pleas, which I found odd since he would always agree with her on anything. I'd heard that the night before, he'd been deep in council with an unknown druid by the name of Keelaodh, who I've heard was always resentful of Shyla's influence and position with Hylas. Funny though, Keelaodh was absent from the meeting. Now I wonder, was he hiding something?" Something like sorrow passed over her face than. "Brougan Grote, the mayor of Argent Glade, has also sent us a report on what he witnessed before and at the meeting. He was a member of the Aelfwar order, you see." I almost opened my mouth and blurted out that I was too, but I really didn't think it would be a good time to admit to being a former Aelfwar, what with the prejudice and hate and fear against them now. Hylas had dragged that noble court through the mud.
     "Grote says that Prince Hylas had admitted to wavering on his decision. He was torn between his duty to Tavril, and his desire to protect Shyla and help the Mathosian people. After his meeting with this druid, he was sure. He was vehemently against going to their aid. he outright refused to listen to anything Shyla said, and would not even let her speak to him." Fiach finished her report and peered sharply at me over the parchment. I resisted the urge to feel guilty. I hadn't done anything wrong, after all.

     "I have also received details on the vision quest you underwent, and it's results." I crossed my arms, feeling slightly angry that apparently everything I'd been doing had been spied on and relayed to the council. "It seems that Hylas thinks the gods have betrayed him. I cannot for the life of me, understand how he came to think that!" She look anguished for a moment, before composing herself. The dwarf kept a straight face, not being as close to the topic as the elves were. He was our prince after all, not theirs. "I can only hope that this corruption can be healed from him, if we can make him to see reason! We need more information on this druid though." I stiffened, as all three of the council members were suddenly eyeing me with keen intent. Apparently this was where I come in.

     "Yes, I am eager to help." I said, even though they hadn't actually asked me anything yet. But I had the feeling I knew where it was going.

     Cardinal Fiach smiled at me, although it looked strained. "Thank you Raeslyn. You are a truly compassionate soul." I felt my cheeks heat. Oh great, now I felt silly. "We know little about Keelaodh, only that he was a druid of great magical power but questionable theology. Our spies report that he has now been made High Priest of Hylas's corrupted court. Now that Hylas has been dealt a crippling blow, we may have a chance at bringing down this unholy clerical druid. We need to know what influence he has, if any, over Prince Hylas." I reached down and gripped my daggers, sheathed on my belt, feeling a burning desire fill me to pummel this cleric into the ground. If he was the one who'd corrupted my dear prince, that had turned Hylas from the gods down the dark path of corruption, I couldn't wait to get my hands on him. I really couldn't. My emotions must have showed on my face, for the Cardinal narrowed her eyes at me.

     "Remember, Raeslyn, we need him alive for information. Also, vengeance is not a pretty reason for killing." I made a noncommittal noise, not caring what they thought. Dead was dead, no matter your reasons for killing, and besides, I have a deep feeling that this Keelaodh deserved everything he was going to get. I let my lips curve into a vindictive smile.

     "So, where can I find this...cleric?" I asked, placing one hand on a hip and inspecting my nails, appearing nonchalant, as if this was any other errand to fetch something. Already, I was itching to get my fingers around this slimy monster's throat and wring some answers from him.

     Cardinal Fiach informed me of the last known location her spies had seen the cleric, and I was stunned to find that he'd been setting high and mighty at the Mirror of Ages the entire time. I was so angry for a moment, I saw nothing but red in front of my light blue eyes, blinking furiously. How dare he! How dare this man worm his way into the council of my Prince, and then deign to sit in our most sacred site, with his profane priests and clerics, doing who knows what to the holy ground there. How I'd not heard of this earlier, was a miracle, because if I had, you could bet I'd have been murdering the whole lot of them, conflicting emotions be damned. There was no way I was going to let anyone even attempt to defile Tavril's sacred heart. I turned without a word and strode swiftly out of the council room, hearing murmurs of conversation start up behind me. I ignored them and headed straight for the stable, where I took up the reins of my mare and clattered across the bridge, nearly knocking over a traveler who'd no doubt come to the city to see the wondrous Ascended in person. Ha!

     Several hours of hard riding later, I slowed outside of the beautiful and enchanting clearing that held the Mirror of Ages, tying the reins to a nearby tree and patting the mare's sweaty flank. She could rest while I...attended to business. I gathered the shadows and energy of the planes around me, using them to cloak my form in powerful invisibility, creeping out into the clearing. And was instantly assaulted with such evil and corruption that it took all my concentration to hold onto my cloaking ability. The clearing was crawling with Aelfwar elves, and to my horror, there were even some Fae present. Just more proof of Hylas's corruption, and it made my insides tight with despair. The heavy planar energy was thick on the air, but it made it easier to weave my way through the clearing without being detected. I didn't even have to think of where Keelaodh would be. I just knew he'd be in the very heart itself. At the center of the power that flowed through Silverwood. I clenched my jaw in fury as I stepped under the great roots of the giant and ancient tree that grew at the heart of Tavril's sacred wood. The tree had been here for eons, since the time of Legend, and though no one could say for sure, I had no doubt it was the first tree ever on Telara, put here by Tavril to mark the forming of the Covenant.

     Sure enough, a hideous looking elf was kneeling in a parody of divine respect in front of the ancient altar. I was horrified to see that the altar had been defiled. There was blood and bone strewn around the roots of the tree, and the altar had deep gouges in it. Sorrow and anger filled me. The bell that had been used to bring the elves together for vespers still hung to my left, and with a hateful glare at the druid's back, I swiftly stepped to the beneath the bell. I reached out and rang it, once. The clear, clarion sound rang throughout the clearing, and I could hear the sweet, divine sound in my breastbone, echoing through my bones. I felt clear headed and light, as if in the presense of Tavril herself. Apparently it had quite the opposite effect on Keeloadh. He staggered, nearly falling, and whirled around, face white with fear and horror. His eyes immediately landed on my now visible form and his mouth twisted into a truly hideous rictus.

      "Ascended!" He spat hatefully. "That chime is forbidden here! You dare to sound the vespers of Tavril among my court! We follow the old ways now, fool. Greenscale now gives us power that the gods never would. Here, let me demonstrate!" I didn't realize until too late that he'd been making subtle hand motions while talking, and he now flung out both hands. Twisted green magic slammed into me and I went flying, impacting against the roots of the ancient ironwood tree. I tasted blood where I'd bitten my lip and groaned. Nothing was broken, of course. I was Ascended and stronger and more resilient than even the hardiest of soldiers, but it had still hurt, and I could feel needles of corrupted life magic stinging my face and throat. It hurt to breathe. I could hear Keeloadh cackling madly, and rolled swiftly to the side, barely avoiding another wave of uncontrolled planar magic. I needed to get close to him so I could get at him with my daggers. Preferably stab him repeatedly. I considered my options as I dodged his flailing magic. He had incredible power at his disposal, no doubt compliments of the monstrous Greenscale, but it was unrefined, chaotic, and uncontrolled. Obviously he relished great power, but lacked the true knowledge and skill to use it properly. Serves the traitor right. As another bolt of pure life energy missed me by inches and exploded into the ground, instantly causing an explosion of growth, which died moments after, he screamed in frustration at not being able to even hit me. I smirked, which infuriated him more, and I used his rage to blink in behind him while he was distracted.

    "And now, your end." I couldn't help but gloat, as I thrust a dagger into his back, ripping viciously upward and under the ribs. The druid choked and collapsed forward, but I knew that for a cleric who'd studied druidic magic, it wouldn't be a mortal blow. At least, not right away. I stepped around in front of him, grabbing his wrist tightly as he tried casting another spell. "Enough!" I barked, kneeing him in the face as he knelt. He swayed slightly and snarled curses at me. I waited until he was silent, and than crouched. He flinched, spitting blood on the ground, ragged breathing filling the silence. The cleric gave a great shudder.

     "Mercy." He finally whispered, voice thick with agony. He struggled to breathe and coughed. "Spare me, Ascended, and I will willingly make myself your prisoner! I can tell you anything you want to know about the Aelfwar's plans!" I gave him a contemptuous sneer.

     "I want only one thing, cleric." I replied coldly after deliberately waiting several moments to make him sweat. His eyes feverishly sought mine and he bobbed his head eagerly. "Yes, name it!"
     "What have you done to Prince Hylas? What trick or spell did you use to corrupt him against us? Against Tavril! Tell me now, how do we unravel your poisonous influence over him?" I clenched my bloodied dagger and held it over his chest as a promise that if he didn't answer truthfully I'd gut him and leave him here to bleed out. Keelaodh licked his lips, eyes darting around.

     "That night, when Shyla so passionately asked that we aid the Mathosians, I lured the Prince into a private council. I admit to that. I played upon his faith, jealousy and desire for power. It was so piteously easy. I wish I could say it was my idea, but the changeling Caelhaidh told me what to say to Hylas, how to motivate him just the right way, to get him to turn from Shyla. It was oh so easy." He sneered at me, and gave a choked laugh. I smashed my dagger into his face, satisfied at the crunch of his nose breaking, and the druid bellowed in pain. I glanced around, making sure no one was roused by our...discussion, before focusing back on the traitorus elf. He continued haltingly, a look of spiteful glee in his eyes. I was really dreading what he was going to say, I knew it. "You can't save him, Guardian. Killing me or the changeling will not give you back your precious prince. He belongs to Greenscale now. He took to my words so quickly and completely you'd think he'd waiting for this his whole life. You won't be able to free him from it now, elfling. He's beyond your reach!" He broke into a fit of dark giggling, and I stood, stunned as I absorbed this. Was it true? Was Hylas beyond our reach? I felt cold and shocked and saddened and horrified and angry, all at once, and my hand shook on the dagger. I wanted to howl in fury, to force Keelaodh to tell me otherwise, to change fate so that this hadn't happened. Why, Hylas, why!!?? Why would you forsake us for such abominable power! He had to know it was wrong, he had to! And maybe, deep down, he was still thinking that. Maybe we could still reach him. I wouldn't give up just yet! I felt my jaw clench with determination. There was always a second chance for redemption and I wouldn't let this wretch sway me from that task. I owed it to my people, to my family. To myself. I swore I would do whatever I could to free Hylas from Greenscale's clutches.

     Keelaodh took advantage of my inattention and jerked himself loose from my hold. He bolted for the opening between the roots, and I actually growled in anger. I needed to kill something, and he presented such an easy target. Within seconds I'd overtaken the heavily injured cleric. If he pleaded, or made any motion to defend himself, I honestly didn't even notice. With vicious cold blooded intent, I stabbed downward into his soft flesh, again and again, venting all my frustration and betrayal and feelings of helplessness I'd kept pent up. I was breathing hard and finally realized the body was still, nothing but a bloody corpse beneath my knife. Shakily, stumbled backward and dropped my daggers. I'd never done anything like that before. My mentor had always drilled into me the importance of remaining in control, of staying calm and collected at all times. It was the trademark of a proper and proud assassin. You needed to always look at every situation objectively and find the most favorable course of action. And yet, I didn't regret what I'd done. Only the fact that I'd enjoyed it a little too much. I pushed the thoughts to the back of my mind and took several deep, calming breaths to stabilize myself. And than a tiny kernel of dismay filled me as I realized I'd defiled the sacred Mirror of Ages even more with this gruesome and vengeful death. I turned and knelt at the altar, feeling a cold tear make its way down my cheek. I knelt there for several moments as I silently offered apology to Tavril for desecrating her altar, before I gathered up the shadows and was gone, melting into my surroundings as if I'd never been. I knew that it wouldn't be long before the Aelfwar cultists discovered my deed and rushed to secure the site, so I swiftly made my way back to where I'd left my loyal horse, still tethered where I'd left her. She greeted me with a soft whicker and I mounted and headed back to the city.

     "A changeling, you say?" Cardinal Fiach said. I'd washed up at one of the Inn's in the city, before woodenly trudging back and reporting my findings to the tribunal. For all I knew, they'd already been told by their many spies, but I felt it best I get my version to them as soon as possible. I kept my face expressionless as the council members discussed my report. Fiach didn't look happy when I admitted I'd slain Keelaodh, but she didn't look surprised either.

     "It seems the Fae folk had long been planning for a way to uproot our court." Fiach admitted, looking worried. She frowned at her fellows. "Their boldness has finally paid off it seems. What concerns me is the druid's boasting at how easy Hylas was swayed to corruption. We need concrete evidence to prove either way Hylas's true being. Is he really a dupe of the Faery court, or has he truly embraced the worship of that monster Greenscale?" Her companion finally spoke up, admitting, "It's not like Hylas to bend his will to anyone, even such a being as Greenscale. Perhaps...he actually was tricked?" She gave a tentative look of hope to the others. The dwarf gave a grunt, face dubious. Well, now I knew where he stood. He obviously didn't believe that.

Monday, July 15, 2013

[Raeslyn's Story] 2.19: Be the Hero!

     I couldn't see anything, which would have normally worried me, but I felt calm and safe. A voice spoke to me in low, soothing tones.

     "It appears the Vigil has chosen wisely with you, Ascended. This journey is over, but a new one must begin, in order to ensure that Telara remains safe. Farewell, child of the Vigil." The voice sounded like that of the Spirit Guide.

     With that thought, I woke up. At first, I couldn't understand what had happened. I was laying flat on my back on what appeared to be a soft bed of grass. The fragrant, fresh scent of nature seemed to almost sting my nose with its sharpness. I wrinkled my face up and blinked my heavy eyelids open. It took a few seconds for my eyes to become accustomed to the level of light they were afflicted with, and I was further confused to see a face looming over me, close enough to kiss. Alarmed, I tried to move away, but found that my limbs were like lead. I felt so heavy and sleepy and a part of my mind wondered if I'd been drugged. I hadn't felt this icky since before my Ascension. What happened? The face retreated from view, and hands helped me sit up, where I blinked rather stupidly around the courtyard. Courtyard...right! Hylas! Kongeegon! I gasped, leaping to my feet suddenly. The woman who'd been tending me stepped back slightly but didn't appear too surprised by my reaction. She appeared relieved and smiled at me. She was a dwarf. A child like, round faced little dwarf cleric. I even knew her. From the Guardian's encampment.

     "What happened?" I asked roughly, then coughed in irritation. That was embarrassing. My throat felt like I'd swallowed ten potions in one go. The rest of Loras Tivan's company strode into the courtyard at that moment, most with swords in hand and blood all over their clothing. "I killed Kongeegon. I think." I said, rather smugly, and smirked. My muscles felt stiff and sore, and I knew, deep down, that I must have died. I'd felt myself slipping, before everything had gone dark. I glanced at the dwarf cleric and raised a brow silently. She nodded and smiled at me. That left me feeling unsettled. I didn't like the idea that I'd died, and then been revived just like that, piece of cake. A twinge of unease ate at my insides as I stared at the ground. Further proof that I was changed, not a normal being of Telara anymore. I could almost see the Aelfwar's side of things now. Almost. We were so different than the regular folk, us Ascended. Immortal, unstoppable. What would happen when we had subdued the dragons? Put an end to the threat? We were created for a specific purpose, to fight evil. If there wasn't anymore evil to fight, what would happen to us? To me? Something I really didn't want to think about. I thrust myself out of the little group of healers that had no doubt surrounded my downed body and walked forward to greet Loras. Across the courtyard, Kongeegon's grossly mishappen body lay like a giant log, larger than life evidence of my status as the Vigil's chosen. Loras looked deeply impressed and in awe of me as he approached, and his eyes kept bouncing between my form and the body of the demonic treant from the Plane of Life. I grinned cheekily.

     "See? Told you could I do it." I said, somewhat breezily. I didn't mention that I'd died doing it, seeing as how I'd come back to life in apparent good order. Loras quietly gazed at me, than turned and surveyed his men. They looked weary and saddened and I remembered that the Aelfwar was once a mighty group of elves who stood for all that was holy among us. I felt a seriousness fall over me and I nodded grimly.

     "By slaying Kongeegon, Raeslyn, you have saved the forest and its people, but above all, you have restored balance to Silverwood. I can feel the forest creatures emerging from their dens and the very air feels brighter, cleaner, whole. With Hylas driven back, the forest is free of the clutches of the Plane of Life. Well done, Raeslyn the Ascended." He sketched a formal bow and I felt myself grow irritated at the flowery praise. I made a motion of acknowledgement with my fingers.

    "Although...where has Hylas gone, do you know?" Loras looked around worriedly, as if expecting to find Hylas eavesdropping in some far flung corner. I glanced around reflexively as well, then shrugged. "I don't know." I replied honestly. "Last I saw, he'd magically vanished after I killed Kongeegon. Wherever he is, rest assured that he isn't through with us yet. He'll find some way to get revenge for this, and cause more mischief for Telara. Who knows where he'll strike next." I said. I sighed, suddenly feeling weary myself. No doubt it would be my duty to again try to stop my former prince.

     Loras walked over and inspected the wooden body of the mighty Kongeegon. I followed, although at a slower pace. The creature still made me nervous, despite being dead. He'd been a formidable foe and had I been any less then what I was, I'm sure a different outcome would have resulted. Best not to think about it actually. Loras stooped down and scooped something off the ground in the center of the courtyard and brought it back to me, where I'd stopped a few paces away. I glared sharply at the treant's body and Loras had to clear his throat to grab my attention again. I scowled at him and he held out a large black seed pod, about the size of a child's fist. It was blackened and enshrouded in a powerful elemental aura that reeked of the Plane of Life. I eyed the pod warily before glancing at Loras.

     "What?" I asked, finally. Loras held out the pod and I reluctantly opened my fist to accept it. The second the seed touched my hand, I felt like dropping it. Threads of planar energy wormed their way across my hand. I really don't like magic.

    "Thanks to you, Prince Hylas can't hurt us anymore. But this seed must be cleansed and guarded to prevent others from using its powers. The potential to summon another great elemental being is locked within this seed, I can feel it. I entrust it's safekeeping to you, Ascended, until it can be given to Brougan Grote in Argent Glade. Will you do us the honor of escorting it there?" He looked expectantly between my eyes and my palm and I sighed inwardly. Even though I wanted to refuse, I knew that I wouldn't rest properly unless I knew that this malignant thing had been dealt with properly and I didn't trust anyone else with that task but myself. So instead, I closed my fingers over the pod and shoved it into my belt pouch, resisting the urge to wipe my hands when I let go of it.

    "Yes, I'll run this little errand." I agreed, albeit reluctantly. Oh well, I had to go back to Argent Glade anyway. I still had to resolve the issue of why and how the goblins were getting into Silverwood to begin with, not to mention that I'd been hearing rumors of dark happenings up north, at the border of Silverwood and Gloamwood. No doubt, they needed the expertise of an Ascended to help with the problem.

     After saying my farewells to Loras and the rest of his men, including the two powerful Ascended who'd pretty much done that end of the mission solo, I finally left Overwatch Keep behind. A part of me itched to stay and reminisce in the Keep. To wander it's fine hallways and archways, to follow old memories through stone towers and across the many courtyards of the fortress, but at the moment the emotions were too high and I felt too raw from all that had occurred. Maybe some other time I'd come back here and investigate my old home. Here there, pockets of Aelfwar resistance fought back against the Guardians and I considered pitching in to give the Guardians aid, but then I snorted. Meh, let them earn their keep. If they can't hold back an attack by the Aelfwar they'd never be any good against the actual dragons, or a more serious threat.

     I took my time making my way back to Argent Glade, despite the feeling of the seed and it's dark energy at my side. What Loras had said was evident all around me. The forest seemed to teem with new life and vitality. A feeling of happiness and satisfaction came over me as I walked the lesser known paths toward Argent Glade. The sun seemed brighter, the leaves seemed greener, and the air seemed cleaner. Or maybe that was just my good mood projecting upon the wilderness around me. Whatever the cause, I felt the best I'd felt since my entire ordeal started in the Sanctuary of Rebirth. I almost felt like I could sing. Except I never sang. Not even in private. I felt too self conscious doing it. I know, silly when I was alone, but it just felt uncomfortable. But my step did feel lighter and I felt almost like my heels had wings as I veritably flew through the forest. Because of my increased stamina and power, I had no problem keeping up a fast clip through the forest and arrived in Argent Glade without even breaking a sweat from the trip. As soon as I entered the town, I felt the air was different. All the civilians were smiling and happy and they all bobbed their heads at me like I was a well known neighbor. Maybe I was by this point. News in Telara tended to travel quickly, especially among the High Elves.

     Brougan Grote was signing some papers for one of his men when I approached. I waited patiently to the side of the table as he finished. He glanced up, noticed me, and his face lit up with happy recognition and pride.

     "Raeslyn!" He boomed in his loud voice. I winced internally. He'd never survive using the skills of a rogue, I thought sourly as I walked up. Brougan reached out and shook my hand, oblivious to the feeling of irritation rising off me.

     "Word of your victory over Kongeegon has spread across Silverwood Raeslyn! Hylas won't recover from this for some time, ha! We won't let him gain that kind of power in Silverwood again, don't worry. His reign as prince of the High Elves is over." He looked quite proud of this and I barely repressed the urge to glare. No matter what Hylas was now, he had once been our greatest and most revered leader and he deserved respect for that at the very least. But again I held my tongue and merely nodded.

     "I have something for you. We found it near Kongeegon's body. It's what Hylas used to summon him into our world. Loras suggested that maybe you would know how to keep it safe." I said, and withdrew the seed pod from it's place in my belt pouch. Idly, I wondered if maybe I should burn that pouch and get a new one in case the seed had tainted my pack. Brougan turned the seed over curiously. I'd noticed over time that normal citizens and Guardians couldn't sense planar energy to the extent that I could. They could tell it was there, from some kind of sixth sense, and if they studied and trained, they could learn to shape it, but they couldn't innately look at an object and tell what it was like I could. As Brougan roughly handled the seed in his curiosity, I felt like scolding him for treating it so carelessly. Here was a powerful planar artifact that we needed to secrete away somewhere so that no other aspiring warlords used it.

     "Very well." Brougan finally said, and placed the seed carefully on the table. "I'll take this seed and ensure that no one abuses this terrible weapon again." He turned serious and looked me straight in the eye, making me feel slightly uneasy.

     "Know this. Wherever your travels take you Raeslyn, you will always have a home here among the grateful citizens of Argent Glade and in Sanctum. You've saved us all from a terrible fate and you have our eternal gratitude." He sketched a low, formal bow. To my mortification, everyone else present did likewise, murmuring words of praise for the Ascended and the Vigil. Eventually Brougan returned to his seat at his table and I gave a half lopsided smile.

    "Thank you, your words mean a lot to me." I said carefully. "However, I feel more comfortable out and about in the wide world rather than being tied to one place in particular. But I'll definitely come visit often." I suddenly grinned. "After all, I've got to make sure yall don't forget me!" Brougan chuckled.

I turned to go, then remembered the goblins and turned back, tapping the hilt of my dagger. "It's true the Aelfwar threat is contained, but the goblins are another matter." I said. Brougan stroked his chin thoughtfully and shuffled through his papers.

     "Yes, that's true. I've gotten some worrisome reports from up north about goblins actually. Their defeat in Silverwood will only stoke their aggression, if I know anything about goblins. They seem to be currently plaguing Gloamwood something fierce. They may very well meddle in powers best left alone in that dark forest in order to wake their dragon master."

     "Maelforge." I spat the name. I loathed those dragon gods. Not gods at all actually, just powerful entities that represented their primal element. I nodded as Brougan handed me one of the reports of goblin uprisings in Gloamwood. The report was pretty serious and again I felt I needed to go to Gloamwood and see what was going on with the goblin situation. It ranked at me to leave a task unfinished and the situation with the goblins was unfinished, that was for sure.

     "The people of Gloamwood could use your help, Ascended." Brougan said softly as I read. I hummed noncommittally. "If you are willing to travel there, I have a contact, Laenaya Niro, who is stationed at Gnarlwood Post just inside the Gloamwood border." I raised an eyebrow, and tapped the paper against the table. Finally, I knew I couldn't avoid it, and nodded.

    "Yes, I think I should go investigate this goblin matter. It seems that things in Silverwood are settling down, and the gift of Ascension has given me an edge that others don't have. And it's not like I have anything better to do." I added the last part just to see what he'd say. Brougan looked amused.

     "Thank you, Ascended. I will send a missive to inform her of your coming. Just follow the path into Gloamwood. Her latest report about the goblin threat deeply worries me. May the Vigil guide your way." He inclined his head and I knew I'd been dismissed. I gave a jaunty half salute and sauntered out, daggers swaying at my hips and along my back.

     Before heading to Gloamwood, I wanted to get some supplies, have a few good nights rest, and fetch Naesa, my mare. The journey will no doubt be faster if I had her with me instead of going by foot. Marginally less dangerous as well, as goblins were always reluctant to attack a fast paced horse. I paused by the large shimmering curtain of planar power that made up the Porticum in Argent Glade, gazing at it. Should I use it to get from Argent Glade to Sanctum, pick up Naesa, and then portal back here to Argent Glade? Unquestionably, the time it would cut was amazing. I could be in Sanctum in moments. But the very idea raised hairs on my neck. I wasn't afraid of magic, per se, but it made me nervous. As a trained warrior of the shadows, I used daggers and other weapons of deadly stealth. I was a physical fighter and didn't really see much use for magic. Of course it came in handy in some situations, such as my resurrection. I grinned to myself. But I didn't like relying on it too heavily. If I did that, who knows what else I'd be using it for? Before too long, I might be using more magic than physical skill in my attacks and abilities. While not necessarily a bad thing, I didn't want to become that kind of person. I liked my method of fighting just fine and it worked quite well for me and I didn't want to wake up one day to find that I preferred weapons lit with magic, or that I liked using sourcestone magic to augment my abilities. I stood there for so long that the Porticum master asked me to step up and not be shy.

     I debated a few more moments, before I finally gave in to the lure of the convenience of being able to instantly teleport halfway across the forest to Sanctum rather then spend half the day by foot getting there. The woman standing by the arch that heralded those to and from its borders beamed at me like I'd just made her day. I stepped up to the shimmering green curtain, admiring it's ethereal, alien beauty. The gods approved of this, I reminded myself as the woman manipulated a series of strange dials on the side of the strange metal arch. A waterfall of bright light rippled through the curtain of green, then she nodded in satisfaction at me. Taking that as my cue, I stepped forward into the green magic and was swept away to another place.

     The actual experience of traveling through the arch was hard to explain. I had the sense that time stood still and at the same time seemed to stretch onward to eternity. I felt all my senses explode outward at the same time as being compressed down so tightly that I felt like I would burst from the pressure. I couldn't see anything, and yet my mind insisted that I could feel the breeze on my face as I whipped past the land between Argent Glade and Sanctum in mere seconds. Finally, I was disgorged onto unsteady feet into the dim interior of the Sanctum of the Vigil, Sanctum. Thankfully I was able to quickly step forward a few paces to save myself tripping flat on my face from the momentum of being thrust out of the Porticum. A woman standing nearby gave me a casual, half interested glance, before going back to filing her nails. Apparently she was used to seeing people pop out of the green curtain. Striving to look as natural as I could, I adjusted my daggers and strode for the exit of the cathedral.

     Outside in the bright sunlight that was midday in Silverwood, I glanced around. These Porticums were indeed quite handy for fast travel. The only downside was how rare they were and how they required you to have visited the town or outpost they were located at in order to activate that particular one. So currently, I had only the ability to travel between Sanctum and Argent Glade. Oh well, that bothered me not at all since I loved traveling and exploring the wild spaces of Telara. Grinning eagerly, I stepped down off the steps of the cathedral, and was immediately assaulted by an eager pilgrim who bowed before me.

     "Ascended! Only someone who is touched by the gods could have done what you did at Point Solitude and Overwatch Keep! The Guardians thank you, mighty Ascended." The man bowed again, and cheered, drawing the attention of a few nearby Guardians who had been praying to the statue located between the cathedral and the bridge. I rolled my eyes in aggravation.

    "Yes, thank you. That was nice." I said dryly. The man beamed at me. Time to walk away before this became a crowd. I slipped over the side of the marble steps and made my escape among the busy confusion that was city life, easily blending in among the exotic, bright, and loud peoples that made Sanctum home. My senses were constantly prickling as I walked Sanctum's streets, letting me know that quite a few of my fellow Ascended were here in the city, and where once I'd been filled with such awe and pride at even the idea of more of my Ascended brethren, it had become such a commonplace thing that I just took the shivery feeling in stride and continued on my way.

     After securing new packs and saddlebags, I found a merchant selling trail food at a good price, bought a few other supplies, and made my way to an Inn. I spent the rest of the evening lazing in the shaded grass by the Inn, idly watching some poor crazy man named "Poor Tom" wailing in the street about how everything had changed for the worst. Eventually the poor crazy fool wandered off down the road as I busied myself cleaning my daggers and the sun slowly sank behind the trees, sparkling on the sea behind Sanctum like jewels in a bed of blue silver.

Friday, July 05, 2013

[Books and Artifacts] VI: Liberation of the March

This book describes the retaking of Freemarch from the Warlord Jakub in the point of a view of a citizen of the March:

From the papers of Dunbart's Guide to Telara: Freemarch
The Freemarch took its name when Jakub the Tyrant was overthrown as ruler of the March. When the Eth Empire fell in the Convocation, many local rulers rose up to the fill gaps in leadership, squabbling to carve up the world. Few were just or kind. The people of the March, however, overthrew their warlord and instituted a system of elected leadership known as the March Wardens, which survived the rise of the Mathosian Empire and still flourishes today.
The following is a recently discovered account from the perspective of one farmer who survived the slaughter of the final battle against Jakub:
"The way I remember it, and I am a very old man now so am sure these things have gone fuzzy with time, but I remember that we had almost no trained soldiers left on our side. They'd all been bought by Jakub or died in the early fighting. What stood before Jakub was nothing more than the small folk armed with whatever they could find. But we were fighting for more than they were. We were fighting for the right to live with our bellies full, to choose how we would live, who to live it with and where our steps could take us. We were fighting, in short, for everything. Dying didn't matter, cause there was nothing to live for if we lost. In the end, I can think that's the only reason we won. We had a will to win. That and Elliam. Without Elliam none of us would have had the courage to rise up to begin with."
    According to a different artifact set, Eliam set some fair and reasonable laws down after becoming the first March Warden of Freemarch. The artifact set "Scrolls of Eliam" reads that Warden Eliam put down edicts of social justice into scrolls for future Wardens to follow to keep Freemarch safe:
  • Scroll of Consent
  • Scroll of Liberty
  • Scroll of Justice
  • Scroll of Consanguinity
  • Scroll of Peace
  • Scroll of Happiness
I think I could live with those edicts.
References: This is taken from the book "Liberation of the March" found in Freemarch. The information belongs to Trion and is not mine in any way or form!!!! I think it's an interesting look at the history of the March, which by the way, used to be called Emerald March.


Thursday, July 04, 2013

[Karazhan's Story] 2.2: Waging War

     I woke to the booming sound of cannons firing, apparently something I needed to get used to in this new reality. Sitting up, I realized that sleeping on the ground makes for an uncomfortably stiff wake up call. I performed some stretches to limber up my muscles, flexing my fingers and stretching my arms and legs. Then I practiced some quick mental exercises I'd been taught in the temple for sharpening my mind.

     With nothing else really to do, but wanting to be of assistance, I wandered back into the cool, dim interior of the Ark of the Ascended. I couldn't help gazing in wonder yet again at the majesty of the place as I approached Sanora and waited politely for her to acknowledge me. Jillian smiled a good morning to me.

     "Ah, good morning Ascended! Karazhan. I trust you slept alright?" Sanora dusted her hands off and clasped my shoulder in a friendly gesture. It warmed me to see that others cared about me.

     "Yes, I am well thanks. Is there anything I can do to help here....?" I asked, eyeing everything around me. "I'm not very familiar with magitech, but I have strong magics, perhaps...?" Sanora gave me a thoughtful look. Another boom shook the stone walls. She frowned at that, than gave me another, more appreciative look.

     "Actually...we are fine here, there are plenty of scientists and scholars lending their hand to the excavation, but you are a powerful Ascended with potent magics available to you. The Guardians have been waging constant war against us since the fall of Port Scion. They blame us, wrongfully, for the death of their last royal line. Their commander, Lord Runeclift, is near invincible without Ascended. If you can find a way to neutralize him, I'd be mighty grateful. He's the one in charge of this..." She trailed off as another boom shook the walls and a shower of pebbles rained down. She gave a half shrug, as if to say, 'see what I mean?' I bit my lip and considered. Well, I did offer after all. I was hoping for something a little less violent, but who was I kidding? This was war after all. Tumultuous times. If I wanted to be part of history, I had to do something.

     "Very well. From what I've observed, I can find this Runeclift up by that half destroyed bridge?" I asked, lifting an eyebrow. Sanora looked so relieved, she sagged. She nodded. "Thank you, Karazhan! We are forever in your debt here." I waved it off.

     "I have been given the chance of a new life, as well as many powerful gifts. It is I who is in the debt of the Defiant." I said in return. I strode back out into the bright morning light and squinted off to the left, where the ground sloped sharply upward. Nodding resolutely, I took off for the broken bridge I'd first seen when I'd arrived.
  At the base of the bridge, a young woman in red and gold knelt on the ground next to a man holding his stomach. She looked up as I approached and gave me a once over.

     "Who are you? Are you the medic I asked for?" Her forehead was creased with worry and there were smudges of blood on her uniform, hardly noticeable against the dark red fabric. I spread my hands.

    "I'm sorry no. My name is Karazhan, and I came to help neutralize these Guardians who are attacking." I said. "Something about a Port Scion and revenge." I didn't really know much of what was going on, actually. I shook my head at myself. I know so little about the new reality I now live in. I needed to fix that.

    "Tell me what happened here. What happened at Port Scion to make these Guardians attack us so viciously?" The woman sat back, patting the shoulder of the wounded man consolingly. She gestured behind her, over the railing of the bridge, where I could see a large inlet. Across the water, a large, verdantly green forest stretched as far as I could see.

     "Port Scion was a neutral city created for all the various cultures and tribes of Telara. After it fell due to betrayal from within, the Guardians went on the offensive. They blamed us, instead of their own treacherous snake, Alsbeth Rothmann. Their goal was to destroy the Ark of the Ascended and then march on Meridian." She scoffed. "As if destroying our city and our magitech would solve all their problems. Instead, we destroyed the bridge between us to prevent their advance. So now they sit on the other side of the broken bridge and launch magical cannon attacks against us. Because of the distance, it isn't that accurate, but it is causing casualties. And they are sending boats across the inlet, last I heard. If only we could get at them." She shook her head, frustrated, then turned back to her patient, waving me away.

     I stood up and stared thoughtfully. Best to see for myself. I thanked the exhausted healer and walked further across the bridge. Not far down the way, I saw the end of our side of it, jagged and crumbling. A handful of Defiant stood at the edge, shaking their weapons and occasionally hurling magic bolts or spears. Nothing came even close to reaching the other end of the broken bridge, where I could see a group of men and woman clad in white and blue and silver. They had a cannon aimed in our direction. I silently approached the Defiant and stood analyzing the distance. It was quite far, that was true. So far that I couldn't even make out features or details on the enemy. But....

     With my magical senses, I probed the distance, wondering if I could indeed cast a spell that would reach that far. I've never even dreamed of casting a spell over even half this distance before. But things were different now. I am Ascended now. I flexed my fingers and spread my feet. A man on my left turned and eyed me curiously. He nudged his fellow and then the whole group of Defiant were gawking at me. I shot them a playful smirk. The leader blinked at me. He opened his mouth and I put a finger to my lips. Turning back, I gave the group across the way my full attention. Taking a deep breath, I called up my control of the elements and the weather. The air began to crackle around me. I could feel my hair lift of its own accord. I absolutely loved the feel of my magic. Not many had such skill and control over the elements as I had, back on Atia. I locked onto my target and licked my lips, straining my magical connection as far as I could. I grinned as a fork of lightning suddenly coalesced over their heads and danced from body to body. From this distance, all I could really see was sparks of light and jagged streaks of magic as the lightning arced between the group, doing devastating electrocuting damage to the entire group. They staggered and fell, and still the lightning rained down. It seemed like it took forever, but in fact mere moments passed. I stepped back, aware that the eyes of the whole Defiant force at the end of the bridge were now staring at me wide eyed, looking a little uneasy.

     "Relax, I'm on your side." I said, smiling. I made an elaborate, overly dramatic bow and spun on my heel, striding back down the bridge. As I walked back to the land, I gazed out over the sea. Just at the edge of my sight, I could make out the skeleton shape of a ship, listed to the side and grounded on a tiny island, far out in the ocean, but close enough to know it was a large, seafaring vessel. The colors even looked similar to something I'd seen before. I squinted, but the distance was too far.

     Back at the military camp set up outside the Ark, a woman approached me. She eyed me up and down like everyone seemed accustomed to doing here. I gave her a polite nod.

     "That was an excellent control on your magic you displayed up there." She said. "Of course, I'm not surprised. You are one of the machineborn after all." I tilted my head. How did she know? The woman chuckled. "I have informants everywhere dear. Come, let's discuss some things that have come to my attention." She walked across the yard and I followed.

     "I am Optica Fairna Oaks." I am one of the military advisors between the Wardens and the Defiant army stationed here." I nodded, although I didn't really know who the Wardens were. I'm assuming the native defense of this land. "Freemarch belongs to the Wardens, although we are grateful for the aid of the Defiant of course." She continued, answering my question.

     She stopped walking and turned, putting her hands on her hips. She was short, as were most people to a Bahmi, and had the looks of an Ethian who'd lived a hard life. "I admit, I find you a bit...hard to conceive. A powerful, created Defiant sent back in time from a doomed future to save us? I didn't think I'd ever believe what those scientists were saying, let alone live to see it happen. But I am very grateful for it." She smiled, and her eyes crinkled at the corners. I smiled back. She turned and gestured widely around her. "This is the fair land of Freemarch. What do you think of it? Not so fair anymore though. It used to be beautiful, emerald green, bountiful." Her voice darkened. "Worshippers of Regulos, calling themselves the Endless Court, have attacked these lands, wreaking havoc everywhere! That's why the Defiant is here. They've offered their aid in defense of Freemarch and the surrounding lands in return for the city of Meridian and free reign of our lands. A small price to pay, most of us thought."

     She gave me a long look. "Lately, the clashes with the Endless Court have been worse. They have dared to attack us here at the Ark, and are swarming all over out there beyond the valley. The more we kill, the more that come. I can't understand it. There must be some portal somewhere, allowing them to arrive here so quickly. If only--" She was interrupted as a man in a long red coat rushed up to her, saluted and then held still, as if waiting for recognition.

     "Yes?" Fairna asked.

    "Ma'am. Dame Sigga wants a status report, ma'am." The man bowed as he finished, glancing fleetingly at me, before focusing back on Fairna, who nodded. "Tell her we've had heavy rift activity, plus multiple skirmishes with cultists along the sea borders. We are holding for now, but we need reinforcements to keep the Ark secure." The courier bowed. "I'll pass the word ma'am." He said curtly, before turning and running off. I frowned. Things didn't sound all that great.

     "I will be truthful here, Ascended." Fairna said suddenly. "You've easily beaten back those Guardians, securing the Ark from their invasion in just a handful of minutes. We could use your help against another threat-the minions of Regulos. Would you lend your considerable skill and ability to protecting Freemarch? It as much your home now as ours." I blinked, taken aback by her direct approach. I had suspected she would ask for my aid. Things must be troubling indeed. Of course there were plenty of benefits to aiding these people here. For one, like I'd said to Sanora, I owed everything I had and am to the Defiant. I had no goals or direction in this new world. While I could of course go off and make a name for myself, or find a calling as  a mercenary or an adventurer, there was something that appealed to me about being the Defiant's protector. Their sword of justice, if you will. So without thinking about it anymore, I bent into a graceful and respectful bow, keeping the position but lifting my head and looking into Fairna's hopeful eyes.

     "I would gladly protect Freemarch from the evil of Regulos and his Endless Court." I said formally, then smiled. "I've a bone to pick with him anyway." Fairna laughed at that comment, although I'd been serious. I could still feel the part of my self, my soul, that had been torn from me...from us...when I'd been created by Sylver Valis.

     At that moment, a tall woman with long legs and the grace of an assassin stalked up to us. She had the arrogant swagger that I'd come to associate with assassins and rogues. She gave a nod to Optica Fairna, then focused on me.

    "Ascended? I have a message for you. We've captured a member of the Endless Court alive for information. He refuses to speak, even under duress, except that he wishes to see you. Only then will he talk." The woman cocked her hip to the side and settled her hand on a long dagger strapped to her thigh. She watched me as if I was an interesting specimen she'd like to take apart. No doubt with her blades. I kept my face blank, but looked to Fairna. The shorter woman shrugged. "It's up to you Ascended. You don't have to if you don't want to."

     "Very well." I said after a moment of silence. "Take me to this prisoner." It seems I was involved with the fight in Freemarch whether I wished it or not anyway. We crossed under the wooden bridge to where a circular platform stood next to a red tent. The platform was surrounded by red beams of electrical current, powered by some kind of magitech device to the side. The captive knelt within, with barely any room to maneuver. I would have felt sorry for him if I didn't have memories of my time spent in the future, at the end of the world. Just thinking that sent shivers down my spine. Schooling my features to indifference, I peered at the prisoner, who stared back at me with red, fanatical eyes.

     "Well, what is it you want from me?" I asked boldly. The captive smiled slowly, revealing blackened, pointy teeth. I almost recoiled backward in reflex. No, Kara, hold steady, he just wants a reaction out of you.

     When he spoke, his voice was like nails on stone. "I am sent by my master Alsbeth. She is the chosen of Regulos, the harbinger of death-and she bade me deliver this message to the one from the future. 'Regulos will consume this world. It is inevitable. Accept his embrace and become one with oblivion or be torn apart with the rest of the Defiants.'"

     I stared at the man as my thoughts whirled around each other. That was no empty threat. I knew from my experience in the future that Regulos had the power to tear the world asunder. Did he have the power to end me as well? A terrifying feeling, to be the target of a being so ancient and evil. And this Alsbeth. It had to be the same mad woman from the future who'd confronted us at the death rift. Who'd attacked Asha....Asha! Angrily I hissed at the prisoner.

     "I will NEVER bow my neck to Regulos the destroyer and his filthy slave Alsbeth! As long as I draw breath, there will always be hope for light to triumph over darkness." I spat the words out, knowing they expressed exactly how I felt in my heart. Never would I bow to such an evil. I was just like everyone else on Telara. I had moments of weakness. I feared for my own life. I wasn't sure what I would do if faced with the ultimate choice of sacrifice, but I knew that I could never, ever, in good conscious, willingly side with Regulos, or any of the Blood Storm. That was something I could never even comprehend doing. Despite my speech, the prisoner just smiled wider. His eyes flashed white for a second and I backed up uneasily.

     "You are a fool to reject Alsbeth's generous offer, Ascended. When Regulos devours this world, only those who serve the Endless Court will be spared." He said 'Ascended' like it was a dirty thing.

     "I've already thwarted him once." I said simply, spinning on my heel and walking away before my anger got the better of me. Sparks of lightning danced along my fisted fingers. I walked back up to Fairna, who wasn't even making an effort to conceal her curiosity.

     I explained what had transpired and she looked pleased, to my irritation. "Don't you see Ascended? This is good news. If Alsbeth sent that man specifically to offer you this deal, it's only because she's afraid of what you might become. Of what you might do." Another shiver coursed down my back at her words. I had a sense of premonition, or deja vu, that suddenly swept over me. It was a feeling I couldn't explain. "But one thing at a time eh?" She laughed. Well at least someone's good spirits have returned, I thought, somewhat uneasy still.

     "You agreed to help us. Many of the Endless Court cultists and their bomani defenders carry unique markers. One of our technicians, Da Vidmoore, believes that these objects are used to power portals to the Death Plane, allowing them to ferry more of them into Freemarch and thus supply them with an endless supply of troops. We need to find a way to close those portals. The bomani are clever and don't come close enough for us to engage them, instead preferring to stay behind the line of cultists. With your control of weather magic and lightning, you should be a devastating force out there. We'd appreciate getting our hands on those markers." I nodded. I could do that. I had no problem dealing out death to the deathless after what I'd just endured.

     "Do you require anything?" Fairna asked, gesturing toward me, as if she wasn't sure if Ascended needed anything other then their bare hands to destroy the enemy.

     I gave the question serious consideration, thoughtfully staring at the garb I'd been reborn in. The Defiant had done a passing job of making armor that was ideal for my body. It was fluid, strong, flexible, and protected with potent magics, allowing a final defense if I was physically assaulted. It could use some updating and tweaking, but something I wanted to do for myself.

    "Thank you but no. I am fine for now." Fairna nodded. "Very well Ascended. I wish you the best of luck. Give em a taste of Defiant might." She clasped my hand formally and I walked outward, under the wooden bridge again. I took a deep breath, tasting the salt of the sea, the lush grasses of the March, and the cloying taste of death and dark magic. I may be a woman out of time, in a body created with machines and magic, put together using the legendary Sourcestone of the Planes, but I have never felt more alive, more confident, and more myself then ever before. Watch out Regulos, here I come.

Monday, July 01, 2013

[Lore]XVIII: Sanctum

     It is said that the island on which Sanctum is built was gifted to the Guardians by the Vigil, who gave Borrin Gammult a vision of a glorious island rising out of the oceans itself, a vast plateau on which to build a temple to the gods. And so he journeyed to Silverwood to construct such a basilica. It was called the Sanctum of the Vigil, and many ventured to the island to seek solace, peace and blessings from the gods. Eventually, it became such a central hub of Vigil worship that a city grew around the temple, becoming known simply as Sanctum, after the temple. Borrin Gammult earned the title Master Architect for his construction of the Sanctum and was revered by the Guardians. Now, Sanctum serves as the Guardians' headquarters and it is where Cyril spearheads the war efforts against the blood storm, their cultists and the heretical Defiant, with the assistance of Borrin Gammult and Shyla Starhearth, the new Pentarch of the Vigil. The main feature of the domed building is the Covenant of the Guardians, a massive and powerful ward that protects Sanctum against the evil power of the dragons. The Order of the Temple plans the attack against the Defiant while the Harmonious Crusade summon riftspawn for interrogation about the location and powers of the rifts. The Consecrators are the operatives who track down and hunt the cultists, relaying important information about their whereabouts and doings back to Sanctum so that Cyril Kalmer may plan his next move. The mezzanine above holds the quarters of the soul trainers and tutors and the Council of Cardinals co-ordinates efforts and missions with the many guilds that call Sanctum home, sending off heroes and Ascended alike into battle to train, purify and unify them.

     Sanctum is divided up into 5 parts, each named after one of the gods, and each has a specific set of things you can find and/or do in each section. Directly after entering the city from the bridge is Tavril's Plaza. This is the welcome center for Sanctum. An interesting feature immediately noticeable upon entering the city is the giant and dramatic statue of two Messengers of the Vigil posing in what looks like mid combat, swords raised. Between them floats a pure Sourcestone shard, glowing with pure energy. Are the Messengers fighting each other for the Shard? Are they trying to destroy it? Protect it? I really wish I knew! From here you can wander around the central path that meanders through Sanctum, called Bahralt Street. This is where the large statue of the gods is located, as well as the entrance to the Sanctum of the Vigil, the inner keep where all the leaders are and the portal in and out of the city, as well as all the guild vendors/qustgivers/npc's and the like. Tavril's Plaza is also the location of the dimension vendors, just to the left of the steps that lead to the Sanctum of the Vigil.
     If you take a left and continue down the steps you can find the banker, guild banker, Weaponsmithing and Artificer trainers, as well as Thedeor's circle, to the North, where all the pvp action is. You can go there to find warfront quests, quartermasters, attack dummies, and other things related to pvp combat. After the pvp area is the Outfitter and Dreamwaver trainers, than the auction house. On the left of the road is also the mount vendors, directly in back of the entrance to the city. You can buy the 2tailed lions and yarnasaurs. There are also guards stationed all over to ask for directions to certain specific NPC's or locations.
     Down the road is Mariel-Taun's village, where you can find the Lodge of the Planes, a tavern, as well as various vendors and NPC's. Of significant note is this where you can find "Poor Tom". He's apparently some kind of bum or vagrant who just wanders the streets of Sanctum wailing about the world has changed from what we remember and that the Magician has done something to alter the timeline. It's pretty interesting and it's probably a given that the Magician refers to Orphiel Farwind, the founder of the Defiant faction and the enemy of the Guardians.
      The marriage vendor is also in this section. After that is Thontic's Row, where most of the Auction House NPC's are, as well as more vendors and more banker and guild bank NPC's. When you first enter Sanctum for the first time on a character, you get a tour of the city by finding certain people in each of the sections and talking to them about the history of Sanctum. Here are what these characters say about the city and the Vigil.
Abbess Lila Medows says:
     "When the first Ascended Dwarf, Borrin Gammult, was on a pilgrimage north, he witnessed the miracle of this island rising out of the sea. He vowed that he would build a basilica to honor the gods atop it."
Abbot Eldain Diomid, Abbot of Bahralt, says:
     "In Bahralt street you will find the finest craftsmen in the world who honor the god of cities by improving their skills. If you ever need anything made, chances are you will find someone here to teach you how or to make it for you."
     "When Borrin Gammult discovered this island rising out of the sea, he had a vision of a mighty temple built atop it. He went to the city of Port Scion and recruited the finest craftsmen from the Dwarves, Elves and Mathosians and brought them to this new island to build the Sanctum of the Vigil. They labored for a year and a day to create this most holy of temples. It was during construction of the basilica that tragedy befell Port Scion. The heretical machines of the Defiants that burn the holy sourcestone opened a rift the plane of death. Many who escaped journeyed here to seek sanctuary from the elemental invaders. They named the newly created city Sanctum after the temple built to the Vigil and it has become a shining beacon of peace and strength to all the races who seek to redeem the world from the corruption of the dragons."
Onida Windkeiss, Abbess of Mariel-Taun says:
     "The High Elves who marched against the tyrant Aedraxis were consumed by the Shade. Those that stayed behind grieved for their loss. When the Elves returned as immortal Ascended, most rejoiced. Elves are long lived and the loss of so many sundered their faith, who left the covenant in despair and sought to live among men in the cities and villages of the Mathosians and Eth. When the Ascended Elves returned, they called for all Elves who wished to rejoin the covenant with the gods to return to Sanctum. Many settled here in the village outside the basilica. Some Elves felt envious of this new covenant, this new status granted to the Guardian Elves. Led by Prince Hylas, they refused to join us here in the city and instead remain in the ancient Overwatch Keep, fighting their old enemies alone. While the Isle of Sanctum is ours by divine right, the lands beyond are in dispute with House Aelfwar so many pilgrims who make the holy journey to Sanctum fear to leave."
Howakan Farlight, Abbot of Thontic says:
     "Sanctum is a holy city of peace and contemplation but if you look closely you will see hints of dark times to come. I think the gods fear for us, their children. That they worry that the challenges we must face are far greater than these paltry invasions we have seen thus far. So test yourself, Ascended, and grow powerful. We will surely need your strength."
Olaf Bladestrom, Abbot of Thedeor says:
     "The city of Sanctum is one that promotes peace and faith in the Vigil. But our enemies surround this tiny beacon of hope, seeking to topple the holy temple and end the faith of the Vigil as a means of destroying the Guardian Ascended. We raise an army of devoted crusaders to fight against these elemental invaders and heretical Defiants who seek to undermine our efforts to save this world. The forces of Sanctum are spread throughout the old kingdoms. We have recently sent armies from the Order of the Temple to Gloamwood to deal with the Goblin menace as well as the campaign to free the heartland of Mathosia in Stillmore. The Guardians depend upon Ascended like you to protect the people of Telara from the demons and monsters of the planes and defend the city of Sanctum from invasion."
     Sanctum is the capital city of the Guardians and is a focal point for Guardians and Vigil worshippers. It is protected by the faith that its citizens have in the gods and is inaccessible by the many cults and riftspawn that scour the rest of the world. The faithful walk the streets in peace and the sanctuary guards keep trouble from the city. Here, Ascended can find the leaders of the Guardian faction: Cyril Kalmer, Shyla Starhearth, Borrin Gammult. It is also the only city that is Guardian only. No Defiant may step foot inside its borders peacefully. It can only be accessed by traveling across a bridge that separates the island from mainland and is watched over by very high level guards and elite Guardian NPC's. While Storm Legion introduced a new city named Tempest Bay that is also a grand capital and is neutral to both factions, Sanctum is still a popular "hang out" spot for Guardian players who are bored, looking for groups, performing various tasks and quests, or RPing in it's streets.

References: Most of the information can easily be found by talking to various NPC's inside the walls of Sanctum itself, or by doing quests for characters who live in the city. It's interesting to note that a lot of High Elves made Sanctum their home, despite their culture being of nomad inclination, and their vow to protect the wild places of Telara. The picture at the top is a concept art pic from Trion's website on Sanctum. When I have time I'll post a map of Sanctum with details on each of the sections and where to find important NPC's.