Tuesday, October 29, 2013

[Gameplay] III: Zone Events

    A Zone Event is when a multitude of Rifts open across an entire zone. Usually, a Zone Event is a specific, self contained mission. All details, information, and rewards for the Zone Event will be found on the right hand side, usually near the top unless you changed the UI. It will give the title of the event, the parameters for its completion, and if applicable, a time limit on completing it successfully. As the event progresses, you will be given new stages or missions to complete, getting progressively harder. A Zone Event is usually something completed by many players, not just one or two, as it requires covering a vast amount of land and defending multiple points from planar attack as well as being able to quickly destroy the threat. Zone Events are usually always announced in the chat channels in your chat window, so make sure you keep an eye on the level bracket chat in order to see which Zone Event is going on where, and on which server/shard. You can easily hop onto that server to participate in the event by right clicking your portrait and clicking on Teleport to Shard at or near the bottom of the list! Clicking on the link of the event name in chat will give you the name of the end boss in the event, and you can match it to your achievement list to see if it's a zone event you want or need to gain all the achievements, if that is your goal.

     Zone Events are usually pretty straightforward unless they are special story events. You need to close X amount of rifts, kill X amount of planar minions, and defend either 2/4 wardstones from attack. Wardstones are located at major quest hubs around the zone, usually those strange rock formations in the center. If an enemy invader is successful at destroying the wardstone, they will then take over the quest hub and park themselves there, killing any and all NPC's that are in the near vicinity. Once they establish their own foothold there, they can be very hard to kill, especially for the solo player. Proceed with caution on these ones.

     After you've completed all the items on the list required to complete the event, there's usually a lot of yelling all across the zone and a big bad appears, usually a lieutenant of one of the dragon gods, or some other prominent follower. They shout and threaten a lot, and than go on a rampage through the countryside, usually until they either encounter a town or an Ascended. Big bads are really challenging, even to higher levels, and have special and unique abilities to watch out for, such as mind control, circles of death that instantly kill you if you step in them. It requires you to be fast and smart about attacking them. This kind of sucks because usually there's a mob of about 20-50 players on top of the boss all trying to get in their kill credit at the same time, which can cause some lag, especially on slower computers. It's a good idea to turn your graphics on low when attacking the boss because of this, if you want to see what he even looks like. The lag can be so bad at times that he just appears invisible on some computers. Usually after you defeat this boss, you will get an achievement, saying you've defeated so and so, of such place. Sometimes you will get a title or something else as a reward for the achievement.

     Depending on the zone you completed the event in, you will get a specific type of sourcestone from killing the big bad, as well as quite possibly all manner of in game items. This could include any of the following: mounts, pets, planar essence, weapons, armor, artifacts, crafting goods, World Event loot, quest items, or quirky trinkets that give effects, like a goblet that turns you into a bat for a time. This makes doing Zone Events a really idea if they are in your area. If you are mainly a solo player and a quester like me, Zone Events can be kind of frustrating because they are impossible alone and they kind of take over the zone if left unchecked, which means you can't quest either. So you're kind of stuck until either some other players come to assist, or the zone event eventually ends, saying that you failed to protect Telara and all is lost...which leaves you with a feeling of disappointment and failure. But I guess you can't win them all.

     You can tell what level and difficulty a Rift is by hovering over it's icon on the map and mini map. It will be a swirly vortex of doom, usually color coded to the plane it's opened into. It will say what type of Rift, what level of difficulty (Minor or Major), and will also state its level. In higher end zones, you will also encounter elite Rifts, so make sure you keep an eye on whether a Rift is elite or not, as it makes all the difference to survival. Although an Elite Rift will of course contain much more loot.

    Now that the boring details are out of the way, I'd like to point out that zone events are actually really cool, really fun, and really intense! Especially the big ones! You can often get snippets of lore and story out of them and you get to fight off epic looking bad guys in a huge zone wide showdown. Often players will group together to take this guy down! I've seen giant dragons that shake the earth, strange demonic elementals, crazed cultists, and even avatars of the Blood Storm. So if a zone event pops up in the zone you're in, make sure you participate! It's pretty cool, and plus, you'll be helping the whole zone out.

     Here's a list of Zone Events I've recorded so far. Since I haven't been to any of the new zones yet, I don't have a list of those, but as soon as my character gets there I'll update this list. The list is in ascending order from lowest level zone to highest, until lvl 50, or old world Rift. Storm Legion and Nightmare Tide zones are not included as of yet because I haven't ventured there yet. For a live event tracker that will track which events are going on right now on the live servers, click here: Rift Event Tracker -Note that this is NOT my tracker. It was created by someone else and I do not claim any association with it!

  • Silverwood
    1. Battle of the Woodlands-Banish Inhibrius
    2. Crusade Against House Aelfwar*-Destroy the Greater Aelfwar Idol
    3. March of the Gedlo-Banish Cinderon*
    4. The Forest Fire-Banish Mar'krul
  • Freemarch
    1. Battle for Freemarch-Banish the Mark of the Tyrant
    2. Gathering of Souls-Banish Grimnir
    3. The Crushing Deep*-Defeat Xan'thaerid
    4. The Ebb of the Tidelord*-Banish Tidelord Idlopuul
    5. The Hand of Death-Banish the Claw of Regulos
    6. Fall of the Hammer-Banish Veras
  • Gloamwood
    1. Descending Night-Banish Moirna
    2. Forged in Rage-Banish Kallisifer
    3. The Purging of Gloamwood Pines*-Defeat the Hag's creations
    4. The Wild Plague-Banish the Werebeast
  • Stonefield
    1. Experiments in Stonefield*-Banish Oacris the Awakened
    2. Field of Screams-Banish Vairen Maelwisp
    3. Sticks and Stones-Crush Bulgantis
    4. The Undead Burden-Banish Overseer Remalkus
    5. The Stone Titan*-Best the Graniteborn Champion
  • Scarlet Gorge
    1. Shambling Hordes-Banish the Murder of Zombies
    2. A Royal Raid-Banish Kayahan
    3. Greed in the Gorge*-Beat the other faction to defeating the Earth Colossus
    4. Fires of Suffering*-Banish General Argonis
    5. Bone Dance-Banish Thangula, the Undead Corruptor
    6. Systematic Deconstruction-Dissasmble Eddie, the VX-27 Dredger
    7. The Crucible-Defeat Deregal and Fenkor
  • Iron Pine Peaks
    1. Army of the Wind*-Banish Stormlords and Storms of Crucia
    2. Revenge of the Icewatch-Defeat Kapora
    3. Chilled to the Bone-Defeat Iktharn Coldsteel
    4. Sky Beasts-Banish Nedavada
    5. The Snow Pack-Defeat Farus
    6. Stone Cold Invaders-Destroy Sither
    7. Frostbitten Spirits-Defeat Aristult
    8. Planar Chill-Destroy Warleader Kaltes
    9. Hunger for the Deeps-Defeat Tideweaver Arkryon
    10. Mountain Flood-Defeat Geygesh
  • Scarwood Reach
    1. Double Danger-Banish the Fleshbound Terror
    2. Explosive Life*-Disable the Enhanced Life Charge
    3. Hard Knocks-Kill Domovinius
    4. Winged Horror-Banish Terrovax
    5. The Witching Hour-Banish Lillian Dunst
  • Moonshade Highlands
    1. Life of a Bog Mother-Banish Mog'thunk
    2. Life and Let Die-Defeat Conchobhar
    3. Where the Death Fae Go-Defeat Agrona
    4. Runebound Technology*-Banish the Runebound Elemental
    5. Bogspawn of Gorodon-Destroy Gorodon
    6. Run to the Hills-Defeat Maren
  • Droughtlands
    1. Fiery Hoofsteps-Kill Kartok
    2. Burning Dragonian-Defeat Silnolr
    3. Terror in the Sky-Banish Pteretorax
    4. Saving Lantern Hook*-Banish Tarthak the Immolator
    5. March of the Stone Army-Banish Gul'tiesh
    6. Sting of the Sand-Defeat Enselithis
  • Shimmersand
    1. Prince of Earth*-Banish the Prince's Gladiators
    2. Wind and Wings-Banish Steetos
    3. Serpent Storm-Banish Aurispus
    4. Sand Worship-Kill Malan Ta'er
    5. Scourge of the Sands-Destroy Derinku
    6. From the Pit-Destroy Valificur
    7. Power of Nightmares-Stop Crucia from draining the Plane of Water
  • Stillmore
    1. Unlikely Alliances-Rid Telara of the Monstrous Motes
    2. Flesh Monstrosity-Defeat Hrolgaroth
    3. Raising Kain*-Banish Kain the Fallen
    4. An Eye for an Eye-Defeat Gogalab, Lord Edraam's Minion
    5. Dreaded Knight-Banish Darian Targeth
    6. Forest King-Kill Barkuth
    7. Witch of the West-Defeat Celeste Bospin
  • Ember Isle
    1. In Golden's Grasp-Banish Ochrin
    2. Fires of Rebirth*- Banish Scerrion
    3. Ikthus's Rise-??
    4. The Seed of Change*-Banish Altha
    5. Island Storm-Banish Vornia
  • Cape Jule
    1. The Battle of Cape Jule-Halt Auram's Assault
  • Pelladane
    1. Operation: Landfall-Push back the Storm Legion Assault
  • City Core
    1. Entangled-Defeat the Invasion
  • Eastern Holdings
    1. March of the Legion-Stop the Ancient Ashorans
    2. On the Hunt-??
  • Seratos
    1. Secret of the Deep-??
    2. Strange Tidings-??
  • Ardent Domain
    1. Feeding Frenzy-??
    2. Lady in the Lake-??
  • Morban
    1. Rotten March-Defeat the Invasion and Stop Thal'Dralak
    2. Terror Above-??
  • Kingsward
    1. Sudden Swarm-??
  • Ashora
    1. The Silver Army-??
    2. Dreams of Blood and Bone-Defeat Volan
    3. Return of the Fallen-??
  • Steppes of Infinity
    1. Craft of Conflict-Overcome Mother Nug's Challenges
    2. Shattered Earth-??
    3. Fortress Defense: Phase One-??
    4. Champions of the Firestorm-Defeat Rabrongar
  • The Dendrome
    1. Far From Freedom
    2. Swarm of the Century
    3. Virtue of Vehemence
    4. Melting Point
    5. Rude Awakening
    6. Arboreal Menace
    7. Under the Table-Help Orgathor with his drinking problem
    8. Thorns Everywhere-Clean up Burnthorn's Mess
    9. Why So Sad?-Cheer up Vryl (VERY RARE)
    10. The Awakening
    11. Boiling Ambition
    12. Scuttling Dreams
    13. Critical Mass-Banish Darvaka
    14. Inner Maelstrom
    15. Macabre Feast
    16. Portents of Terror
    17. Pay No Mind
  • Goboro Reef/Draumheim/Tarken Glacier
    1. Crushing Force-Banish Hivemaster Tch'chkk
    2. Battalion of Flame-Banish Desinara
    3. Tendrils of Renewal-Banish Sharlissa
    4. Terror from the Deep-Banish Lady Lanthe
    5. Horns of Doom-Banish Aroksus
  • Tyrant's Throne
    1. Leviathon-??
  • Planetouched Wilds
    1. Earthen Assault-Banish Teth Geonis 
    2. Fire Storm
    3. Tide of Destruction
  • Scatherran Forest/Gedlo Badlands/Xarth Mire/Ashenfell
    1. Horrific Horticulture
    2. Cometary Ice
    3. Cauterized Calamity
    4. Tectonic Drift-Banish Aftershock
    5. Cosmic Void-Banish She of No Name
    6. Cyclonic Conflict-Banish Gust Front
  • Vostigar Peaks
    1. The Tempest Rises
    2. Tipping the Scale:Ahnket-Defeat Ahnket's advance
    3. Tipping the Scale: Crucia
    4.  Tenebrean Tussle-Defeat Ahnket's Advance (name changed from tipping??)
  • Tenebrean Schism
    • ?
  • World Special Seasonal/Holiday Event Zone Events/Rifts
    1. There Arose Such a Clatter (Fae Yule)
    2. Parade Day! (Carnival of the Ascended)
    3. Bloodfire Behemoth (Air Saga Event)
    4. Power of Nightmares (Air Saga Event)
    5. Jewel of Brevane-Join in the Festivities (Carnival of the Ascended)
    6. Take it Back!-Crash the Storm Legion Celebration-Pelladane (Carnival of the Ascended)
  • Events Over Multiple Zones
    1. Unnatural Speciation-Destroy the Hellbug Army
    2. Bloodfire Army-Banish Xumpothazon
    3. Infernal Awakening-Banish the forces of Fire and Earth
    4. Unstable Zone Event-Collect Unstable Artifacts in the 30 minute time limit
    5. Aggressive Colonization-Destroy the Hellbug Colonies and the Broodqueen
    6. Bloodfire Behemoth-Banish Commander Rogmyre
    7. Waves of Madness-Defeat the Abyssal Invaders
    8. Hammer and Flame-Banish the Forces of Fire and Earth
    9. Golden Embers-
    10. Visions of Future Past (Freemarch and Silverwood)*-Defend against the Endless Court
    11. Night Terrors (Freemarch and Silverwood)-Banish the Sinister Presence
  • Obsolete Events that were a one time thing
    1. Grim Harvest (River of Souls World Event)
    2. Visions of Future Past (River of Souls World Event)
    3. Escape the Ancients-Defend the Shade Beacons in Stonefield against the endless forces of the Harrow (Grim Remembrance World Event)

References: If you play the game and pay attention to the announcements of zone events in each of the zones, you can get a feel for patterns and where an event is specific and what triggers it. As for the entire list of Rifts, this is mainly taken off websites that list events, although there isn't much information on them. I'm working that, as I've started recording data related to each of the Rifts I encounter in the game. As Rift get's older, they add in new zone events to spice things up, and I'll make sure I keep the list as current as I can.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

[Raeslyn's Story] 3.3: Skittering in the Dark

  Since, as far as I could tell, it was late, I decided that I was calling it a night. Not that I could really judge if it was night, or evening, or even afternoon. The gloom that hung over the town like a cloud gave the appearance of a perpetual twilight that wasn't doing much for my disposition. Irritably, I stomped into the town's only Inn, a large, gothic looking place called the Dusken Draft. Interesting name. But I was mostly just interested in a place to sleep. The second I stepped inside, a young, harried looking woman greeted me from the side. She stood behind a tall podium with an open, yellowed book in front of her.

     "Even in the darkest night, the Dusken Draft will burn bright." Is her greeting. She said it in a way that gave me the impression that this is a customary greeting to those entering the Inn and I idly wonder how often a day she has to repeat that line and if she's sick of saying it by now. Her face was set in a neutral blankness, as if she couldn't care one way or the other about me. But the second I stepped up toward her and her eyes lifted and automatically sought mine, she gave a short gasp and dropped the quill she'd been holding. I raised an eyebrow in mild amusement.

    "Uh...hello! You must be that new Guardian from Silverwood. The whole town is talking about you." She said, now scrutinizing me as if trying to match me up to what was said. I folded my arms.
     "Oh? All good things, no doubt." I responded sarcastically, then snorted. It was obvious the townsfolk couldn't wait to get rid of me.

    "Are you..." she trailed off and bit her lip, glancing around. "I raised my chin a little, prompting her to continue. "Well, are you as strong as they said you are?" She blurted out, then turned slightly red. I cracked a wide grin. "Oh, much stronger, darling." I said in a deliberately coy tone, just to ruffle her. Then I grew serious. "Why, you have someone you need done away with?" I asked, mostly joking. She gave me another pensive look and I frowned. "I'm not some blade for hire." I said sharply. I turned, annoyed, and tossed over my shoulder, "Raeslyn, for your ledger." I assumed she wanted my name to write down in her little book of guests or whatever that was, before she'd gotten distracted by the actual sight of me. I strode up to the bar and sat down heavily in a chair. Now more than ever I've come to the conclusion that if I'm going to help the snobby folk of Gloamwood, I'm getting paid out of the deal. A lot. Even if I have to take it right to the mayor. Or whoever the leader of the town is. A man on my right in fancy plate armor who'd been lounging in the chair like he'd been there all day, swiveled around to eye me as I ordered a drink and paid for a room as well. I sipped my faeberry wine, and noticed the man was now glaring at me. Now what? I turned and arched an eyebrow at him.

     "Yes?" I asked him mildly. As far as I know, I hadn't done anything to tick off gramps here. The plate wearing guy had to be pushing fifty winters, from what I could tell. It was hard to tell age of the Mathosians, but I'd say that was about right. He had short cut gray hair in an expensive style and well cut wolf-hide gloves. Maybe he felt his pride threatened by the arrival of a more younger fighter. Who knows?

     "I am Tacitus the Elder!" The man exclaimed, puffing out his chest and staring me down. I frowned lightly at him. Was I supposed to be impressed or feel a significance attached to the name? "Well you're definitely not Tacitus the Younger." I muttered dryly, taking another sip of my wine. Perfectly chilled. I watched out of the corner of my eye as the man's face turned red and he sputtered. Suddenly he stood up and I tensed, wondering if he was going to attack me. The barkeeper must have thought the same thing, because he was suddenly giving us both hard looks from across the counter.

     "I wouldn't talk, rogue. If you were any good, I wouldn't see or hear you. As I would dearly like that, I suggest you get some training, you look new to the game." With that, the warrior took on an air of self satisfaction and lumbered away from the counter. I glared after him, mood officially soured again. Moron. Probably never seen a fight in his life. Ha, what does he know anyway? I was still muttering to myself when the barkeep wandered over to refill my wineglass.

     "So, you hear about the Pass then?" the man asked, idle chitchat, as he poured the bright pink liquid into my glass. I glanced up at him, somewhat confused. "What do you mean? What Pass?" Well, here was finally something concrete I could deal with! Maybe. Unless it was just the usual tavern talk that circulated around bars and Inns. The barkeep leaned toward me, as if imparting a grave secret, and whispered, "You know, Silkweb Pass." I gave him a blank look. "No, I don't know. I'm new to Gloamwood, remember? What's going on in Silkweb Pass?" Vaguely, I remembered there being a "Silkweb Pass" sign on the signpost I'd seen at the fork in the road before making my way to the Pines. That must be what he was talking about, but what problem there was, I had no idea.

     The barkeep wet his lips and glanced around nervously, as if looking for threats. This had me reflexively scanning the room as well. I settled my eyes back on the chubby man and waved a hand. "Silkweb Pass echoes with the cries of those who fall victim to the terrors that lurk there. They say that those who enter the pass never come out again, and that the skittering in the dark can be heard long after the last scream fades away." I blinked. Ooooookay. Half of me shuddered at how sinister that sounded and the other half of me was wondering at how overly dramatic the townsfolk were. "So, what exactly is the threat in the pass, then?" I asked, finally, when the silence grew somewhat telling. The barkeep blinked and shrugged. "Pretty sure it's giant, man-eating spiders." He said nonchalantly, scratching at a stain on his belly. My eyes widened. I couldn't help it. He said it so calmly, after his previous hushed and grim voice. I mean, really? I rolled my eyes and stared at the ceiling, not sure if I was asking the Vigil for patience, or guidance.

     "Sounds delightful. I think I'll go take a walk up there tomorrow morning." I said finally, then spun around on my stool and meandered upstairs to my room. Behind me, I could feel the disbelief rolling off the barkeep in waves. I snickered to myself.

    The town was making me so on edge that I slept fitfully, with my daggers within easy reach. I had no idea if they truly resented my presence here, or what was going on, but I wasn't taking any chances of waking up with a knife in my back, thank you very much. Death, though apparently not permanent, was a most agonizing experience I'd rather not repeat again. Ever.

     The next morning, I woke up with gritty eyes and a nasty taste on my tongue. Looking out the tiny window in my room, I could see that the sky looked the same as it did last night. Well, maybe marginally lighter. Seriously, how could they stand living in such depressing climes. I was yearning for the beautiful, sun dappled forest of Silverwood already and I'd only been in this accursed wood for...what was it now? Three days? Two? It was so hard to keep track of time here. Another reason to detest Gloamwood. It may have at one point been a part of the beautiful Silverwood but it was rather obvious that it was its own forest now, with its own atmosphere. As soon as I figured out what was making the goblins freak out and outright attack us, I was out of here faster than you could say Ascended.

    After a cold breakfast of salted meat and hard vegetables, I gathered my things and made for Silkweb Pass. Time to do a little investigating. If I wanted payment from the town, I had to earn it after all. The sheriff watched my leave town with a speculative look on her face. Once I came to that fork in the road I remembered from before, I studied the signs. Sure enough, one sign pointed off to the southeast and proclaimed that Silkweb Pass was in that direction. I studied the road for any sign of what lay ahead. It was well traveled, surprisingly, so either the barkeep was exaggerating, or the problem at the pass was a recent one. Interesting. Shrugging to myself, I followed the road for several hours. As I walked, I studied my surroundings. The trees here were impossibly tall and huge, seeming to touch the sky. And every one of them appeared sickly; dying even. Not something I was ok with. Whatever was hurting this forest, it had to be stopped. How dare they, whoever it was, bring harm to the sacred natural places that Tavril had blessed us with. Occaisonally, a small lamppost dotted the wayside, lit with a dim, eldritch glow that suggested a magical touch. I wonder who had cast the spells to keep the roads lit in Gloamwood, since I didn't think this was a forest that someone with holy magic would willingly stick around in. But than again, I couldn't imagine anyone willingly sticking around in this forest.

     The road curved around a large, dark boulder and I slowed, muscles tensing. If there was going to be trouble, no doubt it would hide around the corner where unsuspecting travelers wouldn't be able to see it coming in time. Cautiously, I stepped around the boulder. No creature or mortal was waiting on the other side, but interestingly enough, the path stopped at the foot of several sets of stone steps that led up a rather steep incline. How odd. The steps looked old. Positively ancient, actually, and were girded by a heavy stone wall on either side. I wonder who put the steps there, and how long ago. They seemed to radiate an ancient mystery that made me think they were from a pervious age even.

     To my eternal dismay, the entire top of the plateau was covered in large swatches of filmy white material. It almost looked like a macabre winter setting. Except it wasn't the winter season and that wasn't snow. Oh how I hated spiders. The white webs, filaments long and whispy, covered literally everything. Every tree, every rock, every inch of ground. Even the occasional lamp post had been subjected to the stuff. Well, now I could see what the problem was. And it most definitely was a problem. If left to their own devices, the spiders would eventually grow bold and keep expanding their territory. Before you knew it, they'd be knocking on the doors of Gloamwood Pines. I sighed deeply, unsheathing several daggers, including the one that was wreathed in the ever-burning magical fire. I hate to admit to myself, but I really liked having that dagger. I'd even practiced the "spell" on other daggers. I wasn't sure what exactly you could call the ability, but I didn't feel comfortable calling it magic. I didn't like magic.

    No wonder everyone was so afraid to go traveling. I doubt they were partial to being dinner. It was beginning to feel like everywhere I turned around in Gloamwood, the wood was filled with danger and corruption.

     Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something encased in webbing that didn't look like a natural part of the landscape. Of course, it was nearly impossible to tell, what with the webs coating everything like the bizarre topping to a cake. The object in question was perfectly square, about knee high, and kind of wedged between a small boulder and a fallen log. It looked like a large shipping crate, actually. Keeping an eye out for the eight-legged menaces that were no doubt hiding in the forest, I wandered over to see what the object was. Sure enough, it was a crate. After I used a dagger to peel off the layer of web, I could make out faded words on the top of the crate, along with a tradesman's crest that was actually familiar. I'd seen it around Sanctum, actually. Artificer? No, a jewelcrafting mark, wasn't it? Glancing around once more, I bent down to pry open the lid of the box. Inside, I was quite proud to find that my guess had been correct. The crate was packed full of beautiful, delicately wrought necklaces. They were all exactly alike, each with an ice blue gem dangling on a thin silver chain. Nestled among the necklaces was a shipping invoice, which I picked up out of curiosity.

     "To the order of John Tintan, 25 Cloudborne Ice Necklaces for the selling of magical amulets against bad fortune." The invoice read. I smirked. Bad fortune eh? Superstitious nonsense. The average citizen was so clueless about the real dangers of the world. Still, I bet that this Tintan guy would love to have his merchandise. I wonder how much he'd pay me for them? I grabbed a handful of the necklaces and stuffed them in my bag. I may be an Ascended and a Guardian, a member of the light and holy order, blah blah, but that didn't mean I couldn't make a living doing what I did. I was risking my neck here, after all.

     Just as I straightened up, I heard it. A skittering sound that set all my hair on end. Very slowly, I turned fully around. A large spider was descending from a high branch that swung over the road. And by large, I mean small pony sized. No spider had any right to be that big. I felt quite cheated. It seemed to be looking right at me with creepy, dead eyes, so black you could lose your soul in them. Holy forest of Tavril! I gulped and took a hesitant step back, hitting the back of my knees against the crate. Suddenly my confidence in removing the spider threat diminished greatly. The creature raised its mandibles menacingly, as if it was all to eager to see what I tasted like. Yeah, no. Did I mention, I really hate spiders?

    The spider stepped left. I stepped right. It studied me with creepy, multi-faceted eyes. I scowled with distaste. Come on Rae, I told myself sharply. Man up, you're a High Elf and a rogue! You took on Regulos....well sort of....a shade of Regulos. You can kill a spider! I twirled my daggers in expert fingers, giving the appearance at least of being confident.

     When the spider suddenly lunged at me, all eight legs springing its large bloated form off the ground with more speed and agility that I'd thought, I was nevertheless ready for it. Feinting left, I forced the spider to turn that way, revealing its vulnerable underbelly. Creatures, and insects in particular, weren't all that intelligent and were easily fooled by my maneuvers. Quick as lightning, I'd thrust both daggers into the soft delicate material that made up the spider's belly. I kept my arms close in front of my chest, in a shallow X across the wrists, and then suddenly and violently ripped outward with them. I had to dance backward quickly to avoid the steaming, gelatinous insides from covering my new armor. Disgusting. The spider continued on for a few yards before collapsing and flipping over onto its back. It gave a spam and its legs curled in tight to the body. Fluids and other things leaked out of the body as it twitched once then stilled. I didn't even bother going near it. No way. I may revere and care for all of Tavril's creatures, but I had to question Her wisdom in creating spiders.

     The rustling of dead leaves had my attention and my shoulders slumped even as I turned to look. Yup, just as I figured. Two more large spiders were crouched behind me by the wooden crate. These were smaller then the first, and lighter. Just great. I really hate spiders.

Friday, October 25, 2013

[Lore] XXII: Regulos

  The Dragon god of Extinction. Also known as the Devourer and the Destroyer. He came to Telara 1500 years ago in the form of a terrible dark dragon-like being. He comes from the Plane of Death. His physical form was destroyed and spirit banished beyond the Ward after the events of the Blood Storm Wars. He now seeks vengeance on all of Telara. His involvement in the breaking of the Ward and the corruption of the land has awakened his fellow Blood Storm members but he could care less about their fate for their betrayal during the attack on Telara all those years ago, which led to the entire brood's downfall. He especially hates Crucia, his onetime mate. When the Blood Storm first came to Telara, all Regulos saw was a vast living creation that he hungered to destroy and turn to ash. The other dragons, seeing in Telara a vast world of potential that they could rule over, didn't like the idea of Regulos eating it, so the turned on him, trying to remove him from Telara so they could have it for themselves. Of course this just backfired and caused them all to become imprisoned on Telara, all except Regulos, who got the exorcist treatment and was banished outside the Ward, the magic bubble protecting Telara. He was the only one who's physical manifestation was shattered, broken into dozens of tiny pieces and

    Regulos has power over death itself and controls the Soulstream. That is why is nearly impossible to resurrect someone that has died. Only Ascended are exempt from this, because their souls do not truly revert back to the Soulstream when dead. Instead, through a magical tether that connects soul to physical realm, an Ascended is able to travel back along that tether and find the physical manifestation of their body again. This might work somewhat the same for Asha Catari, although I'm not one hundred percent sure. Her circumstances are rather odd. Instead of being Ascended, Asha Catari is a unique individual in that she is the only non Ascended to face Regulos and survive. Not only survive, but to stand against him and even gain a small portion of his vast powers. The markings on her body are a result of her struggles against Regulos while she was in the Soulstream. Regulos can easily manipulate and twist the minds of anyone he can get power over, although not to the extent that his sister/mate Crucia can. He turns Aedraxis Mathos into his willing puppet, wanting to use him as the instrument to which he destroys the world with.

     His followers are known as the Endless Court. He can take on a humanoid form and seems capable of intelligence and speech, unlike some of the other members of the Blood Storm, who rely only on base instinct. His touch upon Telara brings nothing but death and devastation. He seeks an avatar to carry his essence in the world so that he may enter and destroy Telara once and for all. He also seeks to thwart Crucia's grand scheme to use the Inifity Gate and gain access to her fabled Storm Legion, which would bring about an even greater and deadlier foe than the Blood Storm could ever hope to be. An epic battle of wits between Regulos and Crucia over the Nexus Key and the Infinity Gate leads to a climatic ending in the Plane of Death, where the Ascended, aided by Asha and a Messenger of the Vigil, put an end to Regulos once and for all. Near the end, Regulos admits some very unsettling things to the Ascended and it's revealed that he was the only thing standing between the cosmos and a vast and powerful army of alien beings who wish to conquer and rule over all worlds. The Tenebreans.

  • Plane: Death
  • Goals: Devour all worlds
  • Followers: Endless Court
  • Status: Destroyed (Endless Eclipse Raid)
  • Avatar: Aedraxis

References: Well information on Reggy is very few and far between. Most information on him is in the form of stats for fighting him in the raids and dungeons, which isn't exactly what I had in mind. So I had to do some freeform by just taking what I could from the Defiant alternate future zone and what goes on in Freemarch. When I learn more as I get further into the zones, I'll hopefully come back here and expand on the info! By the way, Reggy belongs to Trion, and all info on him does too!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

[Karazhan's Story] 2.6: Assault on King's Retreat

    After I'd climbed out of the canyon that the Ark of the Ascended was nestled in, I glanced back, watching the small figures of the Defiant running about, performing their various duties. With the sun in my eyes, I turned and headed for King's Retreat. There were Defiant legionnairs stationed along the road, eyeing me curiously as I walked along. I smiled and waved at a few of them, and they gave me amused glances. Thankfully none of them stopped me or threatened me. No doubt due to the strange, sourcestone-imbued armor I'd been adorned in. It was dyed in the Defiant's colors after all. A sign along the road informed me that this was called the Longshore Highway. Probably because it was long, and parallel to the shore, I mused to the other souls that I shared this body with. I got a warm tingling of amusement for my efforts. As I walked, the later afternoon deepened into evening and a beautiful sunset morphed before my eyes, causing my steps to slow as I admired the new landscape. I was thankful anew of my newfound lease on life and vowed to treasure my new gifts and to protect Telara as best I could. A feeling welled up inside my chest, half painful, half delightful. I had so much potential, so much. Everything lay before me, like the proverbial highway I was walking down. Yes, I definitely think I will take up a crafting profession. I've always enjoyed doing things with my hands. Maybe something to do with magitech even. I do have all the time in the world to learn such things, after all. Maybe I could learn two crafts! Something that was barely unheard of, since learning a craft usually took an entire lifetime...except now I had many lifetimes. It should be easy to convince someone to take me on as an apprentice due to my Ascended status.

     Up ahead, I saw a large, barricaded area. Men stood in front and banners in the Defiant's colors and in the less familiar colors of the March Wardens flew merrily in the air, and feeling light, I skipped up to the entrance. My enhanced hearing caught the conversation going on between the sentries.

     "I hear there's been fighting at Smith's Haven. I hope the town is ok. I wish that the dame would let us go aid the March Warden." They stopped as I approached, suddenly on the alert. I smiled in a friendly manner.

     "Karazhan the Ascended at your service, sirs. I've been sent here by Optia Fairna Oaks to speak to....whoever is in charge so I can offer aid to your fair camp." I said in a mild tone. The two sentries looked at each other, then stared at me with wide eyes.

     "An...an Ascended?!" one of them blurted, sounded awed. I chuckled and nodded. "Yessir, that's me. Fresh from the future." I grinned, relishing their shocked awe. It was entertaining to see someone else in shock for once, instead of myself.

    "Well, of course, go right in!" The other sentry sputtered, making a grand gesture. I thanked them politely and wandered into the military post known as King's Retreat. The place was full of all manner of people. Soldiers, tradesmen, medics, civilians, Defiants, Wardens. I stopped and glanced around, a little overwhelmed. I'd totally forgotten to ask Fairna who I was supposed to talk to once I got here, and now I felt rather silly. Walking up to a young man sitting on a stump sharpening a rather large sword, I cleared my throat and he looked up. I was stunned to note that he was even younger then I'd thought, barely more than a boy. Sobering thought, that.

    "Hello, could you tell me who's in charge here? I've just arrived from the Ark and I have some urgent news to report." Well, that wasn't exactly true, but I'm sure the officer in charge would appreciate any aid I could provide be as quick as possible in coming. The boy, with nary a scruff of a beard, gave me a shy once over, blushing. I kept the amusement off my face as I waited. Yes I realized that a lot of my legs were showing and the silvery cloth that covered my chest dipped rather low. I was of the mind that if you have assets, flaunt them. It mattered naught to a caster of course, because our protections and armors were more than just physical. Not that I, as a Bahmi, looked like a delicate scholar anyway.

     "Well, you'll be wanting to talk to Dame Sigga then...m'lady. She's situated in that main tent there. The one with the red and gold tassles. She's the pretty lady in red with the blond hair. Not that you're not pretty either....er." He stuttered to a stop, turning more red. I held out a hand and waved it, laughing softly.

    "It's ok....ah, what's your name?" I asked mostly to be polite, but I was earnest as well. I'd like to know as many people as I could, commit their names to memory to help remind me of what I was fighting for. All these people who would easily lay down their lives to fight the evil assaulting Telara, makes me all the more aware that I could do that, and more.

    "Private Taversham, m'lady!" The young man said, in such a voice that I could picture him standing in a straight line, saluting his superior officer and barking that back when being asked. "The Endless Court burned down my farm, m'lady! Now the only choice I have is to join the Wardens." He said the last sadly, with a pained look in his eyes. I placed my hand on his shoulder gently.

     "You are a brave man, Private Taversham. Never forget that. The people of Telara thank you for your efforts." He sat a little straighter and grinned at me. "Thank you, m'lady!" He said, and went back to sharpening his sword with renewed effort.

    Now that the private had pointed it out, I could easily spot the main command tent, a large elaborate affair complete with the tassles he'd mentioned. I strode up to the tent. There was a man in Defiant regalia leaning over a table strewn with scrolls and maps, while a woman in red paced behind him and offered up what was no doubt suggestions every once in a while. I cleared my throat and both ceased their activity and turned to me.

     "Hello sir, ma'am. My name is Karazhan, and I was told to come here by Optia Fairna? Something about you might be wanting aid against attack?" As I finished, the woman moved around the table and approached me, open curiosity in her expression. She gazed at me closely, then even pinched my arm. I squirmed uncomfortably, but stayed still. I felt like a specimen at the market being sized for the pot.

     "You look like a regular Bahmi...but. There's something about you. Are you that Ascended?" She raised her eyebrows as she said it, looking stunned and in awe. I nodded simply. "Yes, I am the Ascended sent from the future. Although I've heard that there are more, some from before me, and even some that came after. I guess that means that this isn't even the timeline I came from, in the future, but an alternate timeline....which is kind of depressing because it means the efforts I put forth here won't matter where I came from and that world is indeed doomed and...." I trailed off at the look the woman was giving me and cleared my throat awkwardly. "It's uh...a subject of interest to me." I finished lamely. She nodded.

     "Though we are all fighting for the same thing, you Ascended walk a different path, it seems." She said, somewhat mysteriously. I shifted, restlessly, and she seemed to take the hint.

     "Yes, we have problems cropping up here at the Retreat left and right. The people of Freemarch were suspicious of from the start, and now its worse with degenerated Defiants coming back from the dead and attacking us at every opportunity. The Endless Court is using foul magic to control our fallen comrades, but the locals refuse to see the difference. They just see Defiants suddenly rising up and going crazy. We need to find a way to stop it before things get out of hand!" I almost remarked that it seemed like things were already out of hand, but that seemed inappropriate. Besides, this was bad news indeed. The cultists had somehow gotten ahold of something that could bring dead Defiant back to life? No wonder they were having troubles. The undead were twice as hard to kill as a regular man, and it must be hard for them to face their former comrades and slay them. The poor woman looked exhausted.

    Feeling curious, and wanting to actually find a definite answer, I asked, "What is the Endless Court actually trying to accomplish here? I thought that Regulos was locked beyond the Ward? That hasn't changed, has it?" I have to admit, that made me just a little worried.

    Dame Sigga shook her head. "No, Regulos has not descended upon Telara. Yet. The Endless Court are his loyal servants. They act to weaken the Ward even more. We're striving to do what it takes to hold him off as long as possible and to prepare to defeat him when he finally arrives upon Telara." I must have looked alarmed, because the Dame gave me a concerned look. But my mind had flown to that dread future I'd escaped from. The death, the despair, the finality of it. It seems Dame Sigga, and I'm sure many others, believe that Regulos's appearance on Telara is inevitable. What if I can't change history? Or the future...whatever. What if my actions in this time change nothing and we end up back where I started...in that dead, beaten future that wasn't a future at all. No. I refuse to believe that. I will change the fate of Telara, all by myself if I have to! I have the potential to be one of the strongest creatures on Telara. I will take on the gods if need be! I puffed up, feeling grimly determined, and the Dame gave me a searching look.

     "I'll investigate these degenerate Defiant and see what I can find out about how to stop more from coming." I said solemnly, still feeling the effects of my vow to myself. The Dame nodded, looking relieved.

     "Thank you, Ascended. We owe you a great debt." She gave a slight bow and I waved it away. I am just doing what I'd think any decent being would when their world was threatened. Fighting back. Well, no time like the present to get this done, I suppose. I walked around the outpost first, familiarizing myself with its layout. It's something I'd found myself automatically doing after my resurrection. I'm not sure if it was an effect of my Ascendency, or if it was the remnants of one of the souls that shared my magitech body, but either way, I didn't think it was a bad habit to have. Awareness of your surroundings could be the difference between life and death, after all.

    "Hey!" The voice halted my steps and I turned to see a young man staring at me. I lifted a brow. "Yes?" I asked, in a neutral tone. The man walked up to me. "Are you truly Ascended like they are saying?" I looked down at myself, wondering if I had a sign on my forehead that said "Here is an Ascended". "Yes..." I responded, somewhat more reserved. "I can't believe the Defiant were able to replicate the Vigil's gift." The man continued, in a strange tone. As if he couldn't decide how he should feel about that. This was compounded by his next comment. "I can't decide if this is a miracle or a blasphemy of the worst sort." I snorted. "Well, when you figure out which, let me know." I said, and walked around him. I could feel his eyes on me as I continued on my patrol of the area. Near the very far end of the outpost, almost opposite the Dame's tent, I came across a little brown tent all by itself, shoved up against the barricade that made up the far wall of the Retreat. Ever curious, I poked my head inside and was instantly intrigued by the large table that dominated the tent, piled high with ancient scrolls and parchments, which looked to be filled with scribbles and diagrams. I itched to read them already, and stepped further into the tent.

    An old man in long dusty robes and an even longer beard startled me when he moved, drawing my eyes from the table. "Hello sir." I called politely, and the man jumped. Obviously he hadn't seen me come in.

     "Why hello there young...Bahmi! My goodness, I haven't seen one of your kind before. Interesting." The old man rumbled as he shuffled closer, squinting at me in much the same way as I'd glanced at his scrolls. I smiled politely, enduring the scrutiny. For some reason, the old man seemed entirely harmless, and indeed reminded me of someone I'd thought fondly of back home. "What are you doing way out here in Freemarch, young Bahmi?" The old man asked, sitting himself down at the table with a grunt. I invited myself to sit down opposite him and before I knew it, found myself spilling the entire tale to him. He had a way about him that made me want to tell him my journey. When I'd finished, the old man looked quite astonished.

     "Well, well. That is quite the tale, young Bahmi. Karazhan." He shook his head. "Ascended. Regulos. The end of the world. It's almost too unreal to be true." At my look he waved a hand good-naturedly. "Don't worry, I believe you. We could use a strong force such as yourself out there. I fear that we are losing to the cults and the planar invaders a little more every day. No one mentions this of course, but I can feel it nevertheless. It pains me to see good soldiers injured and killed. I can only hope the bloodshed will help create a more peaceful Freemarch at some point in the future." He looked off into the distance, seemingly distracted, and a thought came to me.

     "So, why is this place called King's Retreat?" I asked, head tilted. It was something that I'd been interested in finding out, but wasn't sure who to ask, or even how to ask. But this kindly old man would know, no doubt. He focused back on me, and the sadness in his eyes made me swallow in empathy. As the night set in outside, the light dimmed and I expended some effort, twisting my fingers and letting a tendril of flame curl inside the little glass lamp sitting on the table. Lord Nicols, as the old man was called, eyed the lamp askance, before giving me a meaningful look. I grinned impishly.

     "These lands belonged to the kings of the Eth, long ago." Nicols began, clearing his throat. "When the Eth Empire fell centuries ago, Warlord Jakub rose to power here in the March. He was a brutal tyrant but was finally overcome long ago by Eliam, our first March Warden." I listened, rapt, to the tale. How fascinating. Already, a dozen more questions formed in my mind, but I kept silent, not wanting to interrupt the narrative.
     "After Jakub, we were done with kings and rulers. Now we choose our leaders. We called them March Wardens, because they would be Wardens over our fair land, rather then rulers, taking on the role of a benevolent guardian instead. Denegar is our current March Warden. Last I heard, he was defending Smith's Haven from some kind of attack. Hopefully once he's done there, he'll come and drive out these infernal cultists that are always plaguing the Retreat." Nicols left off and stared into my conjured flame, and I wondered what it is he was seeing in his mind's eye. I opened my mouth to ask more about Eliam and the March Wardens when a commotion drew my attention. I sprang out of the tent, reflexes as sharp as ever even after relaxing for some time. Even in the darkness of the night, I could easily make out the scuffle that was taking place at the back exit of the outpost. Two sentries were fighting off a third one. Wait, there was something not right about the third one. It came to me immediately. It wasn't a sentry at all, but some kind of undead spawn, with red eyes and sunken skin. But it was dressed in the colors of the Defiant. One of the degenerated! I immediately ran towards the exit, just as the undead creature managed to skewer one of the poor sentries through the gut. The man fell with a moan, and I raised my staff sharply, throwing a magical barrier of fire around the remaining sentry even as I sent a bolt of lightning sheering toward the undead man. He may have been a brave soldier of the Defiant at some point, but this shambling shell was no more a man than I was, in all sense of the word.

     The remaining sentry moved to stand over his fallen comrade, grimly fighting on to protect his friend, and I used my vast collection of storm spells to drive the maddened creature back from them. As I reached their side I concentrated and took the further time to create and cast a fireball. The undead spawn lit up like a torch, and began an unholy wailing that could, pardon the irony, wake the dead. Finally, it sprawled on the ground, an unmoving charred husk. Panting heavily, the sentry leaned down to frantically tend to his poor friend, and since I knew no healing spells, I instead focused on the undead. Walking up to it, I studied the degenerated Defiant's body. Curiously, the body appeared unmarked other then the obvious signs of being dead. A glint in its neck caught my eye and with the end of my staff I jabbed in that location. A small, strange stone fell into the grass and I reached down with a gloved hand to pick it up, finding it strangely cold in my hand despite its owner having died from fire just moments ago. The small gem was dark violet with a twisted, swirling black center. The longer I stared at it, the more effected I became, until I became so lightheaded I nearly staggered. Alright, evil rock. I wrapped it up carefully and gingerly tied it to a thong on my staff. Dame Sigga will no doubt be interested in my results. If I'm right, that rock must be what's controlling the Degenerated Defiants. If we could find some way to modify it, we could maybe take out the entire lot of them! Or least, put them out of commission. I strode back into the outpost.

     Off to one side, the poor surviving sentry was wailing as he cradled the body of his dead companion in his arms, the boy's cries tugging at something deep inside me. Grimly, I strode straight for Dame Sigga's tent. The sooner we put a stop to these degenerated Defiants, the better.

Monday, October 21, 2013

[Books and Artifacts] VII: Artifacts of Gloamwood

     While looking through artifact sets, I found a few interesting ones that specifically pertain to Gloamwood and its dark mysteries. Here's the ones that I could find so far. One wonders what they are all about. A few of them, I've heard before in the "real world" as myths and stories.
  • Tales of the Forest- Folk tales told by the people of Gloamwood to warn their children of the dangers of the forest.
    • Woman in White (from watching the tv show Supernatural, I've taken this to mean something along the lines of a vengeful ghost haunting the pathways who lures unsuspecting travelers to their deaths)
    • Little Red Hood (because Gloamwood has a storyline that involves werewolves, I'm sure everyone knows what this is implying)
    • Buckley the Soul Merchant (not a clue on this one)
    • Scald and the Mouse (not sure on this one, except Scald is the name of a rare)
    • The Mill of Death (there's an old Mathosian Mill that was overrun by undead during the Shade War, this no doubt is what they mean)
    • Delilah the Hag (there's an interesting little piece of information I found on Gloamwood that mentions a Delilah: "Long ago there were two sisters, Laria and Delilah, the daughters of Athana, who lived happily in the woods until the Shade came. One fought the rifts while the other learned to bend them to her will. When Laria died fighting Regulos, Delilah blamed the people of Gloamwood rather the Regulos, and cursed them. This evil act of vengeance opened her heart to the Destroyer." Interesting, no?)
  • Gloamwood Horrors-Gloamwood is a forest infested with the cursed and the damned. There are some horrors that thankfully rare.
    • Qu'ella's webbing
    • Count Cyrus's fang
    • The Nightstalker's spoor
    • Scale of Ol'Ness
    • Rotting tabard of Morticus
    • Athelan's marred holy symbol
  • Curses of Gloamwood- There are many curses inflicted upon the people of Gloamwood Pines.
    • Rot of the Ancients
    • Shadowy Doom
    • Delilah's Curse
    • Lycanthropy
  • Gloamwood Toadstools-Here are some of the most poisonous shrooms in Gloamwood
    • Hag's Cap
    • Moonspoor
    • Pine's Shade
  • Family Crests of Gloamwood- Gloamwood was settled long ago by Mathosian clans. Some of these ancient family lines still persist to this day.
    • Dragomir (apparently the family that rules or governs the town)
    • Hawthorn
    • Cosmin (the sherriff's last name is Cosmin)
    • Solemn (the Solemn's have a nasty curse and are mostly all dead)
    • Darkwood
    • Briarsmith
  • Oswold's Notes-These handwritten notes are Doctor Oswold's notes about the case of the "Beast of Gloamwood"
    • Autopsy Notes
    • Rift Charts
    • Eldritch Analysis
    • Letter from Furtho Dragomir
    • List of Cursed Households
    • Meridian Bank Transfer
  • Delilah the hag-The Hag of Gloamwood plots revenger on the families of Gloamwood Pines
    • Withered chicken legs
    • Silverwood branch
    • Bleached human bones
    • Mortar and pestle
    • Grimoir of the Endless
    • Duskenleaf family locket
  • Gloamwood-The Gloamwood used to be part of the Sacred Silverwood forest of High Elves. Over time it grew twisted, hostile, and cursed.
    • A whole list of items I don't find relevant...but does reward a spider pet!
  • Scotty's Research Paper-The dwarf Scotty appears to have lost his research paper for Quicksilver College while in Gloamwood.
    • Scotty's Research Paper pages 1-4
    • Rewards Scotty's Sheeping Wand-sheeps both allies and enemies
  • Oakheart- Johan Oakheart spent his youth in Gloamwood before joining the Mathosian Guard. Upon his return as an Ascended, he vowed to life the curse of Gloamwood.
    • Mahogany pipe
    • Mathosian writ of Knighthood
    • Oakheart family crest
  • The Sanctuary Guard-The goblins of the forest try to murder, burn and steal; so let the holy Guardians crush them under heel. -Battle hymn of Gloamwood
    • Prayer book of the Vigil
    • Letters from Sanctum
    • Enlistment Papers
  • The Solemn Family-The Solemn family lived apart from the people of Gloamwood Pines. Now only Alistair and Janina remain alive.
    • Malia's unwashed cleaver
    • Hertrude's good boots
    • Zeek's big hammer
    • Brofur's armored shorts
    • Batius's mail order knife
    • Clovis's lighter fluid
     So, a bit of interesting stuff there. Mostly, I'm interested in the family crests and Delilah the hag. We'll have to follow Raeslyn deeper in Gloamwood to learn more about Delilah at least! Also, who's doctor Oswold and what's the beast of Gloamwood? Smells like lycanthropy to me! How exciting!

References: These are actual real artifact sets found in Rift. Once you complete the set, you can gain some interesting rewards in some cases, although to me, the information provided by the artifacts themselves is the most interesting! The lore in Rift is so sneaky! As always, this belongs to Trion, nothing to be gained here by me, except to learn more about the lore of Rift. :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

[Raeslyn's Story] 3.2: Ghost Story

      My impression of the town of Gloamwood Pines was rather torn. On one hand, it was beautiful, if a bit on the creepy side. The town was incredibly large for being in the middle of a dark and scary forest that held all many of evil, cursed and strange beings. It was situated on the banks of a large, fast moving river that I didn't know the name of, with long, simple rope bridges connecting parts of the town that would otherwise be divided by the flow of the river. I was kind of proud of the people of the town that they didn't try to force nature to bend to them, but rather built around it. The houses were large, two story buildings that crowded together as if they were seeking comfort from their neighbors. Every single window seemed lit from within with the glow of torches and candles and magic. I wondered idly how much that would cost.
     On the other hand...the town was hardly welcoming. As I strolled into the outskirts and outlaying buildings, a few people were out and about on various errands. Without fail, every single one of them stopped and gave me the nastiest glare. If I wasn't made of sterner stuff, I'd have felt quite unnerved by this obvious show of hostility. I mean, what gives? They all acted like I was there to steal their firstborn child or something. A few of them, I glared back at, hands on my daggers. The silent, pervasive air of hostile intent began getting to me, to the point where I was becoming jumpy, and that just made my temper worse.

     The next person I saw, I determinedly walked up to. I wanted to show these morons that I wasn't any threat and I also sincerely needed some directions to this apothecary's place because I didn't feel the urge to wander around the town until I came upon it. The place was big enough that I felt I'd be wasting my time just trying to find it on my own. So, keeping my irritation firmly in check, I approached a man in dusty, worn leathers carrying a few long planks of wood. He looked like a good honest, hardworking guy.

    "So, hey there, I wonder if--." Before I'd even finished asking my question, the guy actually, honest to the gods, snarled at me. I scowled at his attitude.

     "Your kind isn't welcome in our wood, stranger. Why don't you go back to where you came from before something bad happens!" The man growled at me. He looked almost frightened and if it wasn't for his obvious insulting manner, I'd have felt a bit more sympathetic. Instead, my temper snapped.

     "Now you look here, peasant! I've come a long way from Silverwood to offer aid to the people of Gloamwood against the goblin threat and the Vigil knows what else you've got going on here, and I don't need your attitude. Now I am going to ask my question, and I'm going to ask it only once, so you better pay attention! I want to know where--"

    "Is there a problem here?" A new voice butted in and I felt myself almost snarl there. What is it with these people? I turned around and sized up the newcomer. She was a tall, self assured looking woman in official livery, carrying a long dagger on her hip and a gun slung across her back. Her arms were crossed and she had an eyebrow raised as she eyed me as if I was the town drunk causing trouble again. I rolled my eyes and stepped away from the logging man, who just grumbled something under his breath and walked off. I was just about done with this town already, I'll say that much.

     "Alright, what's going on here?" I demanded sharply. No more mister nice rogue. "What's these people's problems? I was sent here from Silverwood, to investigate claims of disturbances and dark happenings. The least 'you people' can do is offer some hospitality to a member of the Guardians." I put emphasis on "you people" much like the man had done when speaking to me. The woman seemed to speak, but then she pursed her lips and eyed me up and down silently instead. I crossed my own arms and stared her down as she observed me, resisting the urge to offer a sarcastic comment. See, I can be good.

     "My name is Thalia Cosmin. I am sheriff of Gloamwood Pines. It's my duty to keep the people of this town safe. I will admit that there have been some...strange things happening around here lately. We of Gloamwood like to take care of our own problems. You say you're from the Guardians?" I nodded at her question, but kept quiet, wondering what else she'd say. "I apologize for...the people. We don't usually get strangers here, and they usually just bring trouble." The sheriff continued in a neutral tone. I nodded again. There was a brief silence between us. "So, you had a question? What did you want?" She asked finally, frowning as if she thought my question was going to cause the aforementioned trouble. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.

     "Well, I'm looking for this apothecary guy. I was told by Waykeeper Brion that I needed to bring some potion supplies to him so that he can make some potions to help combat...uh...he didn't actually say, but that they will help. Or something. I got the ingredients, and now I just need to find this apothecary so I can dump them off on him." The sheriff uncrossed her arms and glanced behind her, into town.

     "Oh, you mean Gwyddon Duskenleaf?" She asked, somewhat puzzled. I shrugged. How should I know, the Waykeeper didn't give me a name after all. The sheriff pointed down the main street. "Just follow that through the main part of town and across the main bridge. There's a military encampment of Guardians on the outskirts on the other side of town, head to the left of them and you'll see Gwyddon's labs. It's rather hard to miss, he has a small tower all to himself and you can smell the drying herbs for quite a way." I followed her outstretched finger with my eyes, satisfied and a little eager now that I knew there was a company of Guardians here as well. That's the first time I've heard mention of Guardians being stationed here in Gloamwood, but I was relieved. I'm sure they'd know what was going on here and be more willing to share that intel with me. With a curt thank you, I strode away down the street.

     It was easy enough to find what I was looking for. I could see the standards that flew Guardian colors from across the bridge. Of course, crossing the bridge wasn't exactly something I was comfortable with, but I forced myself to cross without hesitation and even resisted the urge to look down into the rushing river below. As I went further into town, I noticed that the buildings began to look older, less modern and elegant, and more gothic and sinister. The roofs soared high overhead with winged eaves and black shingles and wooden boards covered the windows. There were even a few houses that didn't have a single light on inside. In a town where every building was lit, I found this a bit disconcerting. Bypassing the Guardian camp for now, I made for the tall, stone building that no doubt was the apothecary's home. It resembled a short, squat tower, complete with wide stone steps leading up to it in a curved fashion. I knocked on the high wooden door and heard a kindly old voice within tell me to enter.

     Inside, the tower was homey, cozy even. The rooms were well lit and well furnished, with paintings of landscapes on the wall and a few stools scattered about. Every available surface was covered with plants, vines, and thick books. Definitely the house of an apothecary, I thought with amusement. The man in question was facing away from me, tending to a large plant in the corner that looked a bit sickly. After a few moments, he turned and approached me, wiping his hands on an apron that was stained with some kind of dark substance.

    "Why hello there...." the man trailed off and blinked, surprised, at the sight of me. I was kind of surprised myself. I guess I should have known for the name, but Gwyddon Duskenleaf was an elf. An older elf, with white gold hair and the elegant features familiar to us.

     "Greetings, sir." I said after a moment. One must be polite to one's own elders, mustn't one? I thought to myself in dry amusement.

     "A High Elf? I haven't seen the like in...a long time." The man admitted, breaking into a warm smile. I couldn't help but grin back. "Well that's what happens when you live in this backwater town in the middle of a dark and gloomy forest." I shot back easily. At that, Gwyddon's smile faded and his shoulder's slumped.

    "Yes, indeed. It is a dark forest...and it's getting darker. I came here many years ago to help the wood fight off the effects of the rifts when Aedraxis first unleashed them. I hadn't seen such madness before. Eventually, I settled here in this town. I felt like I could do some good, making potions for these poor people to help ward off the curses and maladies that seemed to be so common here. But it's getting worse and the people are...changing. It's very worrisome. I'm glad you're here, young one. There's something about you. I feel like you could do Gloamwood Pines some good." He gave me a keen look. I tugged on my sleeve as a distraction.

     "That's exactly why I've come, actually. The Guardians sent me to investigate the dark rumors from Gloamwood. The goblins seem to be fleeing here and entering Silverwood by the droves and we want to know why. We've managed to stem the tide in Silverwood, but it won't be for long. They nearly attacked Quicksilver College in their desperation. I want to know why they are so afraid of Gloamwood. Or what they are afraid of. It can't be good." I paused and raised my eyebrows, inviting Gwyddon to explain. He nodded, and shuffled over to peer at another plant.

    "Yes, that does sound worrying. I wish you luck on your...quest, young rogue." His dismissive words surprised me. Suddenly he was acting strange, almost like the other people of Gloamwood. Did the atmosphere infect him too?

     "Well, I was sent here to you specifically, to give you some materials for a potion you make for the Waykeepers?" I said, a little sharply. I took out the items in question, wrinkling my nose again at the smell as it assaulted me afresh. Ugh, that's disgusting. I'm so glad I don't have to drink that potion. At my words, the apothecary turned, this time looking eager and excited.

    "Where? Let me see!" He veritably ran over, tearing the smelly bundles out of my hands. I scowled at his back as he ran over to a workbench, clearing all manner of odds and ends off the surface and setting down my bundles.
    "...you're welcome." I said, into the silence. Gwyddon looked over his shoulder, nodding absently at me, then turned back to concentrating on his new acquisition. Fine, I'll see myself out, I thought irritably. A wave of wounded pride fell over me followed by a soothing wash of calm. No doubt an effect of the multiple souls I was connected to. Time to find those Guardians and see if they knew anything about what was going on, because I was starting to get just a little ticked off at my reception. Okay so maybe I wasn't exactly expecting the kind of glowing hero worship I'd received while in Silverwood, because there, they'd known all about me, they'd seen me arrive, they had Ascended living among them and had an Ascended ruling council right in their midst, but just next door here in Gloamwood it was like they'd never even heard of Ascended, or anything else that had gone on outside the wood. It was like an enclosed bubble that I'd popped by showing up and now they were all blaming me for whatever misfortune befell them. I felt like saying it wasn't fair, but that seemed just a little ridiculous.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

[Lore] XXI: The Blood Storm

     When the gods created Telara, the world was plentiful, full of rich bounties, vastly differing climates, and many different life forms. This was due to Telara being in the unique position of being the center of the Planes-powerful dimensions ruled by a single element made manifest in the physical realm. These 6 elements converged at a point in the center called the Nexus and Telara was at its heart. When the Planes touched Telara, they left behind incredible deposits of a raw material called Sourcestone. Sourcestone had the potential for vast and powerful wonders. It could be refined and shaped to do just about anything, including resurrection and creating a special matrix that can house multiple souls (Defiant Ascended). Unfortunately for the young and innocent world of Telara, this powerful material gave off an equally powerful and specific kind of resonance that caught the attention of some particularly evil beings. The Blood Storm.
     The Blood Storm were elemental entities who gained dominion over their respective Planes and amassed deadly armies of Planar foes. Eventually they grew so lustful for control and power that their reach extended even beyond the planes they conquered. They were drawn to other worlds in the vast cosmos, cracking them for their sourcestone like marrow from bone. When they discovered Telara, the Blood Storm eagerly descended upon the unsuspecting world, rampaging, destroying, enslaving and reshaping it to their own desires and will. They unleashed disasters and monstrosities of unimaginable horror. Their mere shadows drove men mad. Though the peoples fought back, they had been unprepared for such a threat and individually, the many races were overwhelmed and conquered by the seemingly unstoppable dragons. Civilization, historical records, and society was lost to the chaos and fear that became known simply as the Age of Dragons, where survival was the most important, and indeed the only, subject on Telaran minds. Wayward mortals became drawn to the dragons' promise of power, willing to help unmake the world for a mere taste of the vast potential the Blood Storm offered as well as a place under their great leathery wings.

     Telara seemed lost. The dragons ruled over the planet with iron fists, remaking it into the image of their own lust and greed. In the end though, it was the dragons themselves that proved to be their downfall. They splintered, driven by their own base desires to see Telara in each individual's image. Each of the dragons saw in Telara an image of their own dreams and desires. Destruction, complete control, wild chaos, a great empire of riches and greed, knowledge and profane nightmares, and Regulos's claims were the darkest. He desired total annihilation of anything living. The complete opposite of life, renewel, growth. The opposite of anything else the other Blood Storm members desired. If Regulos had his way, there would be no Telara for the other dragons to rule over. Seeing this, Crucia, knowing that Regulos's true form was beyond her to defeat, set up the other dragons to be pitted against him, hoping they would all destroy each other and leave everything for her. And thus, the Blood Storm fell to infighting, each determined to keep Telara for their own dark reasons.
     While the dragons waged a terrible war above Telara, the peoples of the world finally saw their chance. They rallied all the races together and fought back, taking the Blood Storm by surprise with their determination and ferocity. Distracted as they were with each other, the Blood Storm retaliated too late, unable to comprehend that these mere mortals posed any threat to them and unable to present the unified planar front of before. During the early years of the Blood Storm Wars, the Eth began experimenting with sourcestone, creating incredibly effective war constructs and machines of incredible power to help battle the dragons and their new cult followers, while the High Elves employed their ancient arcane wisdom and combat skill and the Dwarves built many war weapons and designed increasingly effective battle strategies and fortresses. All the races contributed to the defeat of the dragons, refusing to relinquish their world to the hungry planar beings.

     The Age of Dragons lasted for hundreds of years, yet when it mattered most, the dragons were too embittered, ambitious and selfish to join forces against the Telarans, a threat they didn't take seriously until it was too late. One after another, the great leviathans were overcome and imprisoned in powerful, unbreakable chambers beneath the earth in various secure locations around Telara, sealed with a king's ransom worth of pure planar sourcestone opposite their own element. Specific guards were set, the dragon orders, to safeguard the prisons (The Icewatch, The Dragonslayer's Covenant, etc.), and the cultists were hunted down through the centuries to ensure they would not rise up and attempt to free their dragon masters.
     Despite the horror, devastation and death that the Blood Storm wrought on Telara during the Age of Dragons, they accomplished one thing that had never happened before or since. They united the many differing clans and factions and races of the world together under a single banner. After the defeat of the dragons, the gods also joined themselves into a single entity, calling themselves the Vigil. They aided the mortals in the protection of Telara by constructing the Ward, an impenetrable barrier around Telara to keep the Planes from touching the world and sealing off the dragons from their powers. This also ensured that the spirit of Regulos, which had been severed from his physical form, would be unable to return to Telara. After this, the gods fell silent and were unable to be reached directly, instead handing down edicts through their messengers. Peace of sorts settled over Telara for centuries, with the cults rising up and than falling again, causing strife and chaos but ultimately being thwarted throughout history, until the cataclysmic event known as the Shade War, brought about by King Aedraxis Mathos, who broke the Ward, fused his body with the Avatar of Regulos, and unleashed the planes again upon Telara, thus waking the other dragons and allowing them access to their planar power. The Guardians were created by the Vigil worshipping races of Telara as a unified front against the evils of the cults and the planes, and as a reward, the Messengers of the Vigil returned their fallen heroes to them as Ascended-immortal warriors-thus fulfilling an ancient prophecy. The Eth, who had refused to give up the potential power of sourcestone fueled technology, joined forces with the Kelari refugees and their close friends the Bahmi, creating the Defiant faction and succeeding in perfecting their own form of machineborn Ascended that rivaled the Vigil's gift to the Guardians. The two factions never see eye to eye, but separately, they work to keep Telara safe from the newly awoken Blood Storm.

     Eventually, revelations and successful battles against the cultists lead to the chilling fact that Crucia, the Blood Storm dragon of Air, had merely played both her fellow Blood Storm and the heroes of Telara, pretending to be trapped in her prison, when she could easily control her minions and followers through mind control and air magic, which is the most elusive and hard to control element. She waited until the Ascended heroes had effectively neutralized the other dragons before making a play for domination, manipulating events across Telara to her own advantage so that she could steal a powerful engine called the Infinity Gate and take over once and for all. Also revealed is the discovery that Akylios is not actually the true dragon of the Plane of Water at all, but a maddened usurper who banished the true dragon ruler, Izkinra, and seized control. He is found to actually be what is called a lesser Akvan-a herd of multi-eyed shark creatures. The dragons are more complex then can be conceived by the mortal mind, which is why they could not be truly defeated until the Ascended were created with the powers to properly comprehend their forms. Anyone who tried to understand the true nature of the Blood Storm before the arrival of the Ascended would go mad from the effort.

Status of the Blood Storm:
  • Greenscale-The epitome of survival of the fittest. The first of the Blood Storm to be permanatly vanquished by the Ascended. After his true death, a new avatar of Life comes into being, taking on the name of Tasuil.
  • Akylios-Not a true dragon. He is actually an unsettling herd of multi-eyed sharks who, acting as one being, conquered the Plane of Water, banished the real dragon, and became a member of the Blood Storm by default. The second dragon to be killed by the Ascended.
  • Maelforge-Chaos incarnate. Is revealed to be a pwn of Lady Glasya, the Queen of Flame on the Plane of Fire, who has enslaved Woragrath, the true Dragon of Fire. Maelforge is the 3rd dragon to fall to the Ascended.
  • Laethys-What she wants, is what she sees. Laethys wants everything. Her form on Telara is molten gold in the form of a dragon. Her true physical body is still on the Plane of Earth. Is the 4th dragon slain, alongside Maelforge. (Or is she truly, completely dead?)
  • Regulos-The only dragon who could rival Crucia in terms of power. His true nature is actually two beings. One is the dragon offspring of Azdah and the other is a spirit/avatar that has the ability to reincarnate on Telara. These two beings finally merged to become the true God of Death and is permanently killed in the Endless Eclipse, leading to a new and terrifying revelation for the Ascended.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

[Karazhan's Story] 2.5: Advance to the Retreat

     After wandering around the unfamiliar area for what seemed like forever, I was able to figure out a way up to the promontory where I could find this alpha dog creature. Bomani, they were called. Such an odd race of beings. It was obvious they were planar creatures, summoned here to Telara as cannon fodder for the forces of the Endless Court. As such, I felt a bit guilty killing them, but I had no choice.

     The alpha, called a Veck, was sitting inside a little stone building at the very edge of the cliff. I'm not really sure what the building had been used for before. No doubt some kind of look out shelter for scouts who would use the location as a convenient way to keep a look out for enemies that would threaten the Ark. It was a good position after all. The highest point that I could see for quite a ways. Such a clever creature, was this alpha, for seeking high ground for a better tactical advantage. Could the creature think in those terms, or was he just directed up here? I shook my head. It didn't matter in the long run, I just loved knowledge for the sake of it. I smiled to myself. Nevertheless, I knew the alpha wouldn't be a threat to me. So far nothing I've come across had posed any sort of significant danger. Not that I was complaining or anything. I was quite grateful I hadn't been severely injured or maimed. I'd rather avoid that pleasantry of war, thank you very much!

     Warden's Point! That's what they'd called this spot. That bit of information suddenly sprouted inside my mind and I knew it wasn't actually my thought. At the top of the hill, there were several bomani milling around among large wooden barricades. With a few well-placed fire and storm spells I was able to dispatch the nearest ones quite easily. The more bomani I dealt with, the easier it would be for the Defiant forces to retake this area and secure it against further threats.

     The bomani alpha Veck creature was quite easy to spot. He was all by himself kneeling in the center of the stone building, facing away from me. How easy. As I drew nearer, I heard some kind of strange mutterings that I couldn't understand. The creature was talking in some guttural language that sounded like a dying cat. Not pleasant. I heard the word Regulos thrown in and shivered. The creature was quite large up close, heavily muscled and easily a foot and a half taller then me. Maybe not an easy fight after all. Good thing that the Optia Fairna had given me some device to use against him. I reached into my pack to pull out the artifact when the creature jerked his head up, sniffing the air. Suddenly he whirled around and his evil gold eyes narrowed in on me. Uh oh. I suppressed the urge to wave and say hi, instead keeping my staff up with one hand while I rummaged in my pack with the other, cursing my habit of collecting anything I came across that looked interesting. My bags were so full of useless things that I couldn't find the stupid dissolution thingy. Seconds before the creature could decide if it wanted to attack me or not, I grabbed the device and threw it on the ground between us, stepping back cautiously. I wasn't exactly sure what the artifact would do, after all. The bomani cocked his head like a dog, staring down at the device curiously. Seconds ticked by.

    "Uh..." I said, unhelpfully. Was the device broken? Suddenly a light shone from within the apparatus, and a beam seemed to strike the bomani. He visibly shrank a few inches and seemed to lose the threatening aura. I blinked as the blinding light became brighter, shielding my eyes with my free hand and covering myself with a magical barrier spell as I did. The creature roared with fury and finally the light dimmed and winked out. The bomani lunged at me. Or rather, he meant to. But instead it looked like he was attacking in slow motion. The veck looked just as puzzled as I was about it. Aha, the device must be working! The creature came at me with a speed that was almost annoying, seeming to push against some kind of invisible weight. Before he'd even taken a step, I'd slammed a fire spell into him, throwing him back several paces and causing him to howl in pain. This didn't sit well with me. The device was very powerful and left the bomani alpha no defense against my magic, but I knew my duty and cast my lightning spell, causing the bomani to jerk and spasm. He finally fell to the ground and lay unmoving, smoking slightly. There was a moment of stunned silence, then I heard the telltale sound of a portal opening and spun around. Sure enough, a magical portal sprang into existence behind me. I stepped back, stumbling slightly on the uneven ground. Now what?

     Out of the portal stepped a tall, red robed woman with deathly pale skin and long black hair. Her expression, if you could call it that, was as cold and deadly as black ice. I knew that face....somewhere. Didn't I? I studied her and it came to me. The woman, Alsbeth! That evil witch who'd attacked us at the Failsafe Device when I'd gone into the past. She'd seemed to have some kind of personal vendetta against Lady Asha. What did she want, I wonder? I opened my mouth, perhaps to ask that, perhaps for something else, but she spoke instead.

    "Incompetent Veck! The Endless Court does not tolerate failure!" I raised my eyebrow, even as I backed up a few more steps to keep away from her, glancing around for a better way off the promontory. She was between me and the path leading back the way I'd come. To either side of me was sheer cliff wall. I licked my lips nervously. She stepped closer and I noticed something strange. She seemed almost....hazy. I could see the grassy highland through her body if I concentrated enough. An illusion? A projection maybe? Still, I didn't want her touching me.

     "As for you, Ascended!" Came her high, cold voice, and I focused back on her face. "You should have chosen to join Regulos! Now your fate is sealed!" I felt my eyes widen and fear caused my heart to speed up. This is it, she's going to kill me! I never got a chance to truly live. To explore, investigate, learn new spells and help save the world! I never...what? I blinked in puzzlement as the woman, Alsbeth, simply winked out of existence. The portal behind her took a little bit longer in disappearing. Now I stood alone up on the grassy hill, wind smelling of the sea dancing in my hair. I was still alive? Not even harmed. Weakly, I leaned on my staff. That woman was one frightening lady. Somewhere deep, deep inside me in a place I didn't even want to acknowledge, my mind whispered that maybe I should take her up on her offer of joining Regulos and be on the side of power instead. I could be my own ruler. I would bow to no one. I'd be so powerful, the entire might of the Defiant army wouldn't hope to defeat me. But I pushed down on those evil thoughts. I'd been raised to know the difference between right and wrong, and I remembered quite well the death and chaos that had destroyed my beloved island home.

     As quickly as I could, I made my way down the cliff and trotted back into the camp surrounding the Ark.

     "You've shown the bomani that even the strongest of them can't stand against the power of our technology. Such work demands praise for the might of the Ascended! If there is anything you require, I'd be glad to see that you got it." Lady Fairna was smiling at me gratefully, and I shuffled, feeling a bit disgusted at myself for my earlier thoughts of betrayal. I gave her suggestion serious thought. What exactly did I want? Well, a lot of things, most being impossible right now.

     "If it's not too much trouble lady, I would appreciate a better weapon. Perhaps one that has been enchanted. I would prefer to choose it myself. And possibly some travel rations. I may be Ascended but I still feel hunger like anyone else. And is there anywhere around here where I can learn information on the current goings on in Telara? The latest news on the rifts and what happened to get to this point? I'm rather lacking in information on that." I paused and Fairna nodded, looking relieved. I wonder what she thought I'd ask for. I snickered.

    "All that is easy enough to grant you, Ascended. There are several men in the camp who can outfit you with proper gear and vittles. As to information, the best place to do that would be in the Defiant capital and our base of operations, the city of Meridian. It is our military headquarters and it also has an extensive library. You can find plenty of information on all manner of subjects there, as well as the leaders of the Defiant, who no doubt would love to meet you themselves. A real live Ascended! In fact, you can find Sylver Valis there!" I grinned at the last bit. I would like to meet Sylver again. Although...he wouldn't remember me would he? He'd created me in the future. In a different time zone then the one I am in now. I wonder if that means there are any number of potential alternate realities out there playing out any number of different senarios. Maybe even one where that soul that Regulos had stolen had taken control of this body and I was nothing more than a kernel of a soul tucked away in that one's mind like the soul remnants that are in mine.....I shook my head. All this was giving me a headache. And then I was reminded of something else pressing I wanted to know about.

     "Oh! If you could, can you tell me anything about the Kelari and the Ember Isles. What happened on the isles, do you know? Did anyone hear about what happened to them and if they survived? I must know!" It came out sounding rather desperate, but the last I'd remembered, it felt like my world was being ripped apart at the seams in all sense of the word, and I dearly would love to know if any of my kin were still alive. I wasn't sure I could cope with the thought that I was the last Kelari. And I could hardly even call myself that anymore, stuck in the body of a Bahmi as I was. Optia Fairna's face clouded over and I felt my shoulders slump.

     "Unfortunately, the Kelari were hit hard by the Shade War. Their lands were overcome by tsunami and tidal waves and I've heard that their longtime allies, the Spirits of the isle, turned against them, becoming too maddened and powerful to be reasonable. The Ember Isles were lost, along with most of the Kelari race." She paused, eying me as I let out a strangled sound that may have been a sob. I wasn't even sure. My mind was reeling. The isles, lost? All my friends, allies, teachers, family, lost? Fairna was saying something else, but I wasn't listening, lost to grief. I remembered the vast household I'd grown up. The beautiful estate I'd explored, cherished, took for granted. The first time I'd been tested for magical potential and how proud my parents had been of me. My younger siblings, all eager to see what kind of spells I'd learned. Venturing into the vast city of Atia to find a teacher that would mentor me and help me learn my craft. My first pact with a spirit. Hands were shaking me and I blinked, frowning through tears I didn't know were falling into Optia Fairna's worried face. She searched my eyes and I wondered what she saw.

     "Ascended? Are you alright? What's wrong? I wouldn't have thought that one such as you...would ah...have had any close relations to any Kelari. I'd heard that before the Shade War the Bahmi hardly ventured outside of their ancestral home." Fairna looked genuinely concerned and I took a deep breath, shoving my emotions down. Apparently being Ascended meant that everything was heightened, even emotions. Surprisingly enough, while I'd had my little break down, the other souls that were housed inside the Sourcestone matrix were silent. Maybe they too were shocked by my show of emotion. Feeling a bit awkward, I shrugged.

    "It's alright. I'm alright." I said, voice low and gruff, reminding yet again that what others saw was a rugged, tall and incredibly muscled desert being, a dark skinned Bahmi. Not a fair haired, fair skinned Kelari from the isles. "It's fine, it's just...emotion runs high in an Ascended." I said to deflect any further questions. Fairna still frowned but nodded.

     "Well, as I said, there were several ships of refugees that survived the purge. Most of these poor dears are staying down by the sea in a small fishing village they've appropriated for themselves. It's just over yonder, shouldn't be more than a few hours walk from here, actually." I stared. Some had survived?? I felt like leaping and cheering. And laughing. Oh my stars, I wasn't alone anymore! Just thinking that made my heart lighter.

     "Thank you, Optia Fairna." I said sincerely. She still looked rather concerned, but smiled and nodded at me.

     "I'm just telling you what everyone around here knows, dear. I can see you can't wait to go running off to see those Kelari, but if you don't mind, I have one request before you do?" I waited, feeling somewhat irritated. Of course they wanted something more from me. I was their miracle Ascended after all. But I tamped down on that thought. I owed everything to these Defiant. And if I didn't prove my word and my loyalty to them, then how better was I then the cultists who allied with the dragons? Or that evil Alsbeth?

     "You're timing has been fortuitous here, Karazhan, I won't lie. You were a huge asset to the Ark. Without you we might have lost the Ark and that would have been a disaster beyond reckoning. We're in good shape now, after your aid, but I have received several disturbing reports in the last few days about fighting at King's Retreat. It seems that things have gotten out of hand there. If you are willing, they could use some...Ascended assistance? King's Retreat is our biggest company within the area and I dare say that if it fell to the cultists, Freemarch would be in dire straits indeed. The good news is, it's on the way to the Kelari refuge. Would you be willing to lend a hand in securing the base there?" Optia Fairna looked so hopeful that I couldn't even think of refusing. And if it was on the way to the little Kelari village, than it was something I obviously had to see to. I nodded, giving a formal salute, and Fairna laughed, waving her hand at me.

     "Off with you than. Live gloriously," I smiled and finished the phrase with "Die heroically," And she grinned at me, saluting back. I wandered over to the men she'd pointed out earlier who were skilled at armor crafting and had a long talk about what exactly I wanted in armor. Most of the things they had on display were far inferior to what I needed, as explained by the souls inside, who helped me find what I needed with tiny mental nudges and far off whispers. Idly I wondered what ordinary mortals would think of what my mind was now like and if they had a name for my new...affliction. I felt so happy now that I knew that there were Kelari alive, and here on the mainland as well! Of course that meant that my beloved homeland was gone, but I knew that the Kelari were a proud and determined race and we'd rebuilt a new home here, on Mathosia and when the time came, we would retake our isles.

     "This staff looks promising." I mused out loud as I tested out one of the staffs they had. It hummed with protective enchantments and wards, the perfect weapon for a mage of my skill I think. It was made of starwood, a strong material that could withstand the kind of magics I could channel through it. I nodded decisively and was grateful that I'd been given coin in the future to help pay for things. Of course, it was running low, but I was confident that I could find a skill I could use to make coin with. If anything, I could try my hand at one of the many tradeskills myself and sell what I created. I'd been good at potion making back in Atia, before my death and rebirth and it shouldn't be too hard to take up the art again. I had my whole life ahead of me, after all.

     After making a few promising purchases for new armor and a new staff, I gathered a few dried meats and cheeses and some fresh fruts to take with me. Quite satisfied, I hefted my pack, grabbed my new staff, and wandered down the path that led away from the Ark of the Ascended, where I'd spent so much of my new life, either now or in the future, and set out into the world for the first time since my rebirth. Well actually, since ever. Even before my death and Ascension via the resurrection forges I'd not gone anywhere significant in my life. I'd lived on my family's estate my whole young life and then spent what adult life I'd had in the city of Atia until my...demise. I hadn't done any of the exploring and adventuring I'd so dearly wanted to do. Look out Telara, her I come! Humming an ancient Kelari song in my mind, I set out for King's Retreat.