Tuesday, December 31, 2013

[Raeslyn's Story] 3.5: Your Outlook on Life is Solemn Indeed

    After I'd gotten directions to "Solemn Outlook" from Janina, I headed straight for the grassy location. I'll get that girl's revenge thing out of the way first since Outlook wasn't actually that far and I didn't want to be responsible for her doing something reckless and stupid like going after the cursed ghosts herself to rescue her brother. It would be just my luck that the town would blame me for that little debacle as well.

     I came across the little fork in the path that I remembered from before, when I was hunting for potion ingredients. Sure enough, one of the signs did say Solemn Outlook. I looked down the "road" that the sign said the farm was located in. The path was hardly noticeable. Obviously no one had been to the Outlook in recent times. Well, no one but ghosts, that is. Good thing I'm a might Ascended rogue and I'm not afraid of some ghosts. Well, not too much anyway. With a small grin to myself, I headed down the path. Actually, I should say up. The road wound it's way up a sharp grassy hill, just as Janina described. The girl was nothing else if not attentive to detail. Really, it was hardly a road. More of a deer trail then anything else. Maybe it was a road sometime during the Age of Legends or something, but you'd never call it a road now. I passed an ancient looking stone well on the left as I climbed upward, and it got me to thinking about this unfortunate family. Why does everyone in Gloamwood seem to be either terrified of some curse, or afflicted with some curse? There has to be a common root that links everything together. After I see what I can do for Janina's poor unfortunate brother, I couldn't wait to go visit the altar. And not just to help solve this mystery either. I was eager to see what the guardian of this wood would look like. Silverwood's guardian took on the likeness of a delicate fawn. It would be nice to have a moment of reflection at one of the old altars too.

     What few trees dotted the landscape cast creepy, elongated shadows across the grassy hill, and I was starting to grow a bit jumpy. It's not like this was a pleasant place or anything. It was very eerie. The whole hill was silent, as if holding its breath. There was no sound except for a strange moaning, like the wind through a hole. In fact, it seemed to be getting louder...I turned around suddenly, some sixth sense warning me in time, and my daggers met the rusted steel of an old blade. The person carrying the blade shocked me so badly I nearly dropped my daggers. It wasn't a person at all, but some ghostly apparition of what I can assume is a long dead Solemn family member. This one was long gone, no trace of sentience or identity left. The ghost had dead, crazed eyes and a permanent snarl on its ethereal features. Not a pleasant sight. Not I know where people get the saying "you look like you seen a ghost". Because I'm pretty sure I was making that expression right now. The ghost let out another unearthly wail and it was so loud that I briefly felt dizzy. Briefly I wondered if maybe there was something supernatural about the wail, as if it was meant to do something to the victim, but thankfully my unique nature protected me from its influence.
     The ghost screeched in fury and attacked me with its blade again, hacking mindlessly away at my dagger, which I kept expertly between myself and the ghost. If I didn't look at the undead thing head on, it was easier to fight it, and it even appeared more solid. An idea came to mind, and I reached down for one of my other daggers. I turned more to the side, so I was only looking out of the corner of my eye, and made a decisive upward thrust with my free dagger, burying the blade to the hilt on the ghost's chest. The ghost gave another long howl and seemed to rise up, before fluttering to the ground in a heap of dirty old rags and torn clothing. Then the entire thing shimmered and faded from sight. Now that was a rather alarming experience I'd prefer to avoid. In fact, I was beginning to wish I'd avoided Gloamwood altogether in my quest to bring justice to the land. But I could practically feel the wood aching to be free of whatever taint had hold of it, and I could no more deny the land than I could deny my goddess.

     Even though there wasn't any gore or blood on my blade that I could visibly see, I still wiped both blades quite thoroughly on a cloth before stuffing it back in a sealed pouch. I really didn't want ghostly goo on my weapons. I cautiously ascended the rest of the way up the hill and noticed an old, run down farm house situated neatly on the little plateau at the top. It would have been considered homey at some point, but right now, the house just looked eerie and depressing. As I neared it, the air seemed to grow colder. Suddenly, another ghostly apparition materialized on the front porch, nearly right in front of me. Needless to say, I was startled. Bu this ghost was different. For one thing, he didn't attack me right away in a crazed frenzy like the other one did. This ghost also bore a striking resemblance to Janina in town. I'm assuming this was her beloved brother's spirit then. Poor sap. He gazed at me with the detached calm that only the dead seemed to have, and carried an old, rusted looking scythe.

"Nigel?" I asked carefully as I walked up the porch steps. I didn't want to set the guy off and have him attack me after all. Who knew what got ghosts riled up? "I've come on behalf of your sister...Janina? Remember her? She's awfully worried about you." I continued in soft tones. As I said the girl's name, the ghost's face seemed to become animated, displaying an expression of longing and sadness. He moved forward slightly, not walking exactly, kind of like floating. I stiffened and felt my hands stray to my belt of daggers by reflex.
     "Ah, Janina." the ghost said finally, and his voice was a wispy, strange sounding thing. "My beautiful sister. Her heart was always so pure and innocent. I thank you, young lady, for coming here, but there is nothing you can do to help. You've endangered your life to ease her pain, but I urge you, do not linger here after dark. The voices of the curse pray for your death, but for now, they do not match the voice in my heart telling me this is wrong."

     I scowled, and tapped the hilt of my dagger as I considered. "Curses don't threaten me, Nigel. Neither does the idea of death. I am Ascended, chosen by the gods, and I've come here with a specific mission to end the strange darkness clouding Gloamwood. I think...this might be part of the problem, somehow." I frowned, wondering again how all these things seem to be connected and who could possibly be behind all the dark mystery in the wood. It was quite alarming indeed. Someone quite powerful had their hand in this mess, that was for sure. The ghost's face transformed in shock at my words and he floated back a few paces, eyeing me with surprised, but hopeful eyes.

     "On these grounds is a foul curse. Each day it's harder for me to resist its lure into madness. I fight its grasp for one reason only-to find a way to cure it before my sister too is taken by it. She must never return to this place and find happiness somewhere!" He looked so forlorn that I was beginning to feel sorry for the poor dead guy. He obviously deeply cared for his sister.

     "Well, this is depressing and all, but surely I might be able to fix your...uh...little curse problem? Do you know anything of how it started, or why you were cursed? Or how long its been going on?" I asked, glancing around. It was indeed getting darker, and the wind was beginning to pick up, making a moaning sound as it whistled around the old wooden farm house. Nigel's face brightened.
     "Actually, I know someone who might be able to help! Uncle Alistair has been trying for months to find information on the curse himself. He's inside the house right now, you can ask him about it! But he's kind of an ornery old man." He looked apologetic and so hopeful at the same time. I shrugged. I could deal with ornery just as easy. At least now I had a lead on this whole curse business. Hopefully this didn't take too long. As much as I didn't mind helping out poor Janina and her cursed family, that didn't exactly solve Gloamwood's problem, and I wanted to get to the altar still.

     I walked inside the house, noting curiously that it didn't seem to have a door. How odd. "Excuse me?" I called, stepping into the gloomy interior. "Hello? Uh...Alistair?" There was a noise to the left and I turned to see an older looking ghost standing to the side and watching me with curious eyes. I gave a half wave. "Oh, hi there. Didn't see you in the darkness." I chuckled, somewhat nervously. The old ghost didn't say anything, just gave me a cranky look. Ooookay. Maybe I woke him up from nap time? "So, your nephew was telling me about a cure and-"
    "Yes, I heard." Alistair interrupted, looking annoyed. "I'm dead, not deaf." Jeez, touchy, I thought to myself. "To break this curse, you must banish the most powerful of our deceased ancestors. This much I found. However, you have to be living in order to enact the banishment ritual and I'm afraid we are rather short on living relatives at the moment." The old man looked rather put out by this and I was glad Janina had stayed behind. "But I heard you say you were Ascended. You'll do." He added, walking past me out of the farm house. I spun around and scowled after the ghostly figure, before reluctantly following him outside.

    "You can raise my ancestors by placing the essences of what they once were on their graves. Make no mistake, your death is all these wraiths desire. Banish the ghosts of the departed Solemn family, and the curse should break." He gazed out over the farm quietly, before quirking a ghostly eyebrow at me. "Or so I've learned." He added. Ye gods, a ghost with a sense of humor. Be still my heart.

    "Fine, I'll do that. But this better bloody well work!" I snapped crossly. "Where are these essences?" I asked, feeling peeved. Just more waste of time when I should be out trying to figure out what the underlying darkness eating away at the forest was. It's not like lifting this curse is going to do anything beneficial. Well, except for helping Janina escape these ghosts' fate, I guess. I sighed. 'Uncle Alistair' pointed helpfully back inside the house. "The items you require are inside, in a chest under the stairs. Lay them at the foot of each grave, and slay the spirit that rises. After that is done, the curse should lift." I snorted. Oh ya, sounds really easy when you say it. It's the doing it that's going to be a pain in the butt.

     After I'd gathered the chest full of strange oddities that belonged to the dead Solemn family, I stomped back outside, where the Solemn uncle led me around back of the house to where apparently there was a small cemetery where all the ancestors of the family had been buried. As if that's not creepy at all or anything. The second I approached the grave markers out back, Alistair's ghost vanished. I have no idea where he ran off to. Maybe he wasn't able to haunt this particular part of the homestead. Who knows? I set the chest down, and dug around in it. The nearest headstone read "Here lies Corvis Solemn" and some other meaningful little quote, so I looked for anything in the chest that had the name Corvis on it. Aha! Some kind of talisman on a chain. It was definitely ancient. Like, back to the Age of Dragons, ancient. Interesting! If I was a historian, or a scholar, I'd definitely love a closer look at this stuff, but I wasn't so I just chucked it at the gravestone. I wonder what would happen. After a few moments of expectant silence, in which nothing happened, I scowled. Great. Did I have to say anything? I stood up from the chest, intent on doing, what I don't know, when suddenly the ground shook so badly I nearly fell on my rear. I yelped in surprise and had to do a little dance to keep my feet. How embarrassing. Big bad Ascended, almost knocked off her feet by a little ground trembling!

     From out of the earth near the headstone, a large, angry ghost roared. It was...really tall. And angry. It roared quite impressively in my face.

     "How dare you interfere where you are not wanted! I'm going to put your body in my grave!" Corvis shouted. His voice was rather strange, sounding like two voices at once, overlapping each other. He raised a hand and a sword nearly as tall as I was materialized in his hand, which he promptly swung at me with no warning. Thank the Vigil for Ascended reflexes. I literally dove out of the way seconds before I could be cleaved in two. I wasn't keen on ever experiencing death again, thank you very much. Corvis came right at me, sword leading the way, and I dodged yet another large, heavy swing of his ghostly blade. The wind of the weapon's passage lifted my hair softly and I gulped. For a big guy, he sure was fast.
     "Hey Corvis buddy, can't we talk about this?" I said breathlessly as I rolled out of the way of another lunge. This is one of those rare moments where I wish I'd learned some other combat method besides daggers. Like a bow for instance. Or those handy little grenade devices that one of the other souls I'd had shoved into my mind knew. Maybe it would be a good ide after all to pay attention to know the knowledge the other souls had. No way did I want them messing with me or becoming part of me, but it would definitely be handy to have their skill. I was going to see if I could add some ranged attacks to my arsenal as soon as I'd done healing Gloamwood.

     Finally, I saw an opening in Corvis's defense and ran in under his freakishly large sword, drawing my daggers in one smooth motion and ramming them into his chest. I was so fast that I'd done all this in the time it would take a normal mortal to blink. I quite loved being Ascended. Despite Corvis being a ghost, he apparently could be wounded just like any live creature, and he stumbled backward, eyes wide and unseeing, before falling to the ground. His ghostly body disappeared moments before he actually touched the ground. I panted slightly as I sheathed my daggers, wringing my hand, where he'd managed to slam down the hilt of his sword at some point. The delicate bones ground against each other in my wrist in a way that made me think there'd been more damage then I'd first thought. Great, just what I needed. Maybe I should start traveling with a healer. I smirked.

     The fight with Corvis had taken me some ways from the tiny plot of gravestones, and I marched back over to the chest of Solemn possessions sitting innocently on the ground. Well, that's one Solemn family member down. Who knows how many more to go. I sighed gustily. Why do I always feel like I'm getting all the dirty work around here? Leaning across and squinting in the gloom, I read the next name on my list. Batius Solemn. Sounded horrible. I feel sorry for whoever had to live with that name. I dug around in the chest before coming up with a heavy signet ring with the name Batius engraved on the inside of the band. Here goes. This time, I threw the ring and drew my daggers at the same time, staying crouched and ready. The ghost burst out of the ground much like the other had, heralded by shaking earth.

     Batius didn't look any more impressive then his name implied. He was a round faced man with a crooked nose and an angry sneer on his lips. "How dare you wake me! Get off my grave, you scoundrel!" He bellowed at me. I wondered idly as I fought with him if all ghosts were inherently angry at being forced out of their resting places. Or if it was just my luck I got the cranky members of the Solemn family specifically. Probably just me.

  After what seemed like an eternity and a half later, I trudged back toward the front of the farm house, dirty, exhausted, and irritated. Every single one of the spirits I'd raised had been ungrateful, violent, loud mouthed clods who'd immediately set upon me like I was a delicious steak in front of hounds. This curse better darn well be broken.

     As before, the second I neared the porch, Nigel materialized, looking hopeful. I shrugged at him. What was he looking at me for? Shouldn't he know if the curse was broken or not? Inside, I looked around for Alistair and found him sitting in a chair staring at an old broken portrait of a happy looking family. Yes, it was sad and all, but I had done my job.

      "So, is the curse lifted now, or what?" I asked, rather irritably. What I wouldn't give for a bath right now. I remember seeing a river somewhere, I bet I could go clean up there on my way to visiting the altar. Besides, I wanted to look presentable to the spirit of this wood. Alistair looked up at my voice, and I raised an eyebrow. He looked rather surprised to see me.

     "You again!" He said, as if he expected to never see me again. "You banished the spirits! And you're not dead!" He sounded so amazed that I rolled my eyes. Well duh, obviously. "But it is still dangerous and the curse is still holding us here. You need to leave while you still can. The power here is beyond you." I glared at him. Fine. I know when to take a hint. After all I'd done, and it didn't even work. I didn't want to bother with their silly little problem anyway. As soon as the rest of the family dies off, problem solved anyway. Time to go see people who will actually appreciate my aid. Although now that I think about it...no one in Gloamwood has appeared too thankful.

     I stomped out of the farm house and back down the path toward the main road. Nigel called something after me about looking after his sister, but I ignored him. I'm not a nurse maid, thank you very much. She'll be fine on her own.

     Now, where was this altar again? I thought for a moment as I walked. Oh ya, by Gnarlwood Post. Well, I knew where that was. That was the first place I'd encountered the Waykeepers after all. After taking a quick second to orient myself, I set off in the direction of Gnarlwood post. From there, I could ask one of the Waykeepers on duty for directions to the Gloamwood altar. I'm sure they would know where it was.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

[Off Topic] Fae Yule Strikes Again!

    So, it's that time of the year yet again! Wow, time does fly by, does it not? It's crazy how it feels like just yesterday I was beginning to write this blog! And now it's Christmas. Or rather, Fae Yule! I've got my tree at home all decorated with shiny lights, I've got my stockings hung, and I've got holiday music playing in the background. Now it's time to settle down with some hot chocolate and write info on this year's Fae Yule!

    It's rather exciting this year, mostly because I've got a bit of a handle on how the quests work now, and since I have more free time also this year, I can enjoy the festival instead of just logging in quickly here and there! Most of things are the same this year as they were in 2013, except for the introduction of some new quests, and of course, more and new achievements! I like that they update each year's things, because otherwise it would get boring for those who've already done it previously!

    The two capital cities, Sanctum and Meridian, have gotten more snowy this year, and appear to be stuck in a winter wonderland. Which I very much like! It looks so pretty and snowy! There's also snow falling softly.

     The currency for this year is Dark Icicles and Snowflakes, which you get from doing the quests and dailies and you can then turn them in for nifty rewards!

     Fae Yule started on December 11th this year, and ends January 8th, so we have tons of time to do each of the phases, of which there are 3, as well as enjoy the holiday spirit in the game and out!

The 3 phases of Fae Yule are called:
  • Remembering the Yule Mother (Dec 11th- Dec 17th)
  • Reclaiming Fae Yule (Dec 18th-Dec 24th)
  • Fae Yule Celebration (Dec 25th-Jan 8th)
     If you log in to your character and want to do Fae Yule stuffs from Tempest Bay, just go up to the main area/plaza place and look for the mass of most players and/or where the wreaths and snow and holiday npc's are all located. If you click on one of the snow critters of your faction (they are specific to each faction, ya) it will magically whisk you away back to your home city, where you can then begin your snowy, wintery adventure!
     If you're Guardian, the quests are all located by the steps in Sanctum, near the giant winged statues. If you are Defiant, the quests are located where all the holiday stuff is located, in that one little nook on the far side of the city, across from the warrior and training dummy area.

     As well as the myriad quests and daily quests you can do in Meridian and Sanctum, you can also go and do Nightmare Tide holiday quests! There's 1 weekly and 3 daily quests you can do for Fae Yule in the Nightmare Tide zone/expac thing. They are located in Flargle Plaza, Ghar Station Mem, and Port Scuddra. Some strange names, these places have eh?

    And you can use the portal in the faction cities to go to Iron Pine Peaks and do the sledding quests. I always liked these ones, they are pretty fun. Although I always miss the gates and end up shooting myself off the side of the mountain every time!

   Annnnd, there's also Fae Yule Instant Adventures(IA)! Once you complete the little chain of IA's, a "Fae Yule Village" will appear with vendors and npc's who can sell neat holiday themed things for snowflakes and icicles. Also, after the IA's are over, you have a set amount of time, I'm not sure how much,  but definitely at least an hour, where you can find Fae Yule Artifacts. There's a bunch of artifact sets you can complete and you get an achievement for finishing them all. They don't look like normal shinies though, they look like adorable little gift boxes that you just clicky on! You can track them too just like normal artifacts! It's soooo fun!

     As well as all that, there's also some kind of world boss during Fae Yule. I think it's called the Golden ...something or other. I don't remember. I only came across him at the last moment. He can be found in Dendrome, at Greenscale's Crater, and he drops some good loots. You get a minion card with his face on it, you get some dark icicles, and you get a whole buttloat of 'fragments of horror'.

     There's also a really cool zone event that spawns sometimes called "There Arose Such a Clatter" that you can help complete in the zone and get cool holiday rewards from. Just like with other zone events, you have to do certain things before you can complete it. Like destroy rifts and rift creatures. After all that is done, a rift boss appears, but this time it's Fae Yule themed! Yulelegon is his name. He's a giant treant decked out in lights.

    Another thing is lumps of coal, you can get from the zone events. You can take it to the brazier where Grandfather Winter keeps his hut and turn them for the event currency.

  • Merry Mink Mounts! New this year are adorable white mink mounts with adorable little hats on. They are so...adorable! Omg! Sadly, I never got one, because my RNG luck is the pits. *le sigh*. But seriously, so cute.
  • Fae Yule Portraits: Well, I am not really a fan of changing my portrait, but it seems to be something that's becoming popular now in Rift. There's all kinds of portraits cropping up now, most of them relating to the rift store or to raiding. But you can get these holiday ones too now!
  • Fae Yule Minions! A whole bunch of new minion cards, all themed for Fae Yule. Oh joy! Personally, the minion system confuses me and I don't really use it lol
  • Festive Winter Sweaters: Come on, who doesn't love those "ugly Christmas sweaters" that at least one family member digs out during the holidays. Personally, I find it amusing that we can now wear them in Rift! If only they had a wider selection of pants or skirts that could match!
  • New wardrobe items: You can get a beautiful festive cape, which I really want, as well as some weapons that are holiday themed! A few of them are actually quite pretty! Like the Ice scythe. I definitely want that one.
  • Companion Pets: Some new cute little mini pets are now available. There's a duck with a santa hat, which is so cute, and a penguin! Personally, I don't much like penguins (gasp! I know....) but the duck is cute.
  • Achievements: There's a ton of achievements as well, and I don't feel like trying to find them in my achievement list and listing them all here, so suffice is to say, ya, there's achievs! Go get them! :)

     And, that about sums it up this year! Go out there, participate in Fae Yule, and HAVE FUN!!!!! Merry Christmas, Happy Fae Yule, and we'll see you in 2014 neh?

      Ver out!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

[Lore] XXIV: The Kelari

  Within the dense jungles of the Kelari Isles, rebel elves carved sprawling magical cities from the limestone, bonding powerful spirits to every structure. They built great temples to appease this ever-expanding population of spirits and demi-gods and their cities expanded from the temples, mirroring the spiritual and natural phenomenon. Though Kelari settlements never matched the sophistication of the Eth city-states, they had their own spirit-crafted wonders and luxuries.
     Once, all the elves were united as Tavril's chosen protectors, though some viewed their duties as more a burden than an honor. During the Age of Dragons, the elves who came to call themselves Kelari turned from Tavril, pursuing what they saw as spiritual equality. For years, they operated in secret among the High Elven society, forming pacts with powerful spirits and lesser gods. These cabals were finally exposed by their brethren and the bloody civil war that followed nearly decimated the entire elven population, which wasn't large to begin with. Finally, under a flag of truce, the High Priestess of their new order, Isidora, led her people away from the ancient elven homeland of Tavra to settle on a tropical archipelago.

     Thanks to prolonged exposure with the spirits, the Kelari are both culturally and physically different from their High Elven cousins. They have generally darker skin tones, outlandishly colored hair, and notched ears. The Kelari are a proud race, believing themselves spiritually equal, rather then subservient to, the gods. They have no betters, only those who must prove themselves as equals. Steeped in elaborate and precise rituals, the Kelari seem detached and unconcerned for the mundane and a history of living sacrifice does not endear them to the other races of Telara. Until recently, Kelari interactions with outsiders were limited to the rare exchange of goods and scholarship.

     The Kelari fled from the Isles after their society was corrupted from within. The Shade struck Telara and the deep-sea prison of Akylios cracked, driving the seas into a frenzy. Though monsoons and tidal waves battered the Isles, the Kelari held fast, protected by their spirit patrons. Then strange new spirits began appearing in the temples and some Kelari embraced their offers of unlimited power. One by one, the madness struck the priests and priestess of the Kelari people. As the elite of their society fell, the people rallied to drive out the new spirits. Yet they found many of their old spirit allies gone, and the new spirits were bloated with profane power that reeked of fire and brimstone. Soon, the Kelari found themselves struggling for their very survival on the Islands. Many Kelari joined the Abyssal cults, lured by their power, and soon the streets and temples ran red with elven blood. Finally High Priestess Anthousa Mona called for an exodus of the Isles and the remaining Kelari who agreed to leave sailed from their precious and beloved home. By then, the seas were nearly impassible and a mere score of ships made it to the shore of Freemarch. Only recently has the Kelari population seen growth, when the Defiant resurrection forges pulled a number of lost Kelari souls from their journey down the Soulstream, returning them to life as immortal Ascended.

     The Kelari joined the Defiant mainly because they had no choice. Cast adrift from their home, on a strange continent, they had no allies and no resources. They approached the Defiant with an offer of alliance, as they would never join the Guardians and their Vigil worshipping allies. In truth, the Kelari favored no race and would rather avoid them all, but they saw the necessity of joining the Defiant faction. Many of the Defiant protested the Kelari's induction, in particular, the Bahmi, who never trusted the spirit-loving race. They were silenced, however, by the reminder that they followed a strict code that included an Oath of Hospitality. Evidence of this is provided by talking to Asha Catari, Rhan Chuluun, and Anthousa Mona in Meridian in the Command Center. Asha states that the Kelari's 'the end justifies the means' approach leaves some room for compassion, and their world views can sometimes be extreme.
     The Kelari balance out the Defiants' eager lust for power with a fitting sort of spiritualism that was different, and yet similar, to that of the Guardians and their worship of the Vigil. While the Bahmi honed themselves to perfection to honor their ancestors and their clan and the Eth explored forbidden technology in order to defeat the many enemies of Telara, the Kelari eagerly made pacts with the mighty magical beings of the new continent they found themselves on, trading services for power and magical ability. The spiritual fervor that the Kelari displayed has easily been transferred into a passion for magitech among the young Kelari of the new generation, who have proven quite valuable in magitech workshops, despite the comments of older elves. I think this is mainly because on 'mainland', there are fewer Spirits, and fewer still Spirits who have the power to create a bond with a Kelari and aren't tainted by the planar energies. Of course, a Kelari is much more likely to simply try out what might work, rather then conduct careful, months-long experiments with precise measurements and much research, and so the Eth learned to grow somewhat cautious when their Elven allies handled their machinery. It was the Kelari's knowledge of spirits and spirit magic that led to the infusion of souls with machines in order to move forward with their plans of creating Defiant Ascended and it was a Kelari in particular, who was finally successful in creating the first machineborn Ascended in order to send them back in time and avert the apocalypse of the future.
     Kelari love to investigate new forms of magitech and eagerly rush into trying out new things, with little regard to the consequence.

     The leadership of the Kelari is strongly matriarchal. On the Islands, the most important feature of their culture was of course, their relationship with the spirits. The Kelari would made deals and pacts with the spirits to do anything from lighting a fire to making a vehicle fly through the air and cross a ravine. In return, the Kelari would over sacrifices and elaborate rituals, as well as other offerings and even perform deeds requested by the spirits. These were performed in large temples where the spirits could rest and absorb the power given to them by the Kelari. The temples and the priesthood are central to the Kelari society, much as their spirit worship is. Though merchants, artisans, military leaders and other high ranking members of society wield their own type of power in certain situations, the High Priestess is in all ways the leader. She has the last say in any decision and her decrees are regarded as final. The leader of every town and city, as well as the ruler of their temple, is always the Arch-Priest or Priestess. Though history has known Kelari High Priests, most of those in power through the years have been women.
     In order to celebrate their wonderful pacts with the spirits and many bonds they have formed with them, the Kelari host many festivals. They honor the spirits and also celebrate the otherworldly powers they live with. The largest festival by far, and the one most Kelari will always participate in, is the Masq of the Spirits, a large spiritual and special holiday where the Kelari dress as spirits and it is often said that the spirits come into the streets and dress as Kelari. There is rich and wonderful foods, plenty of rituals and dance, and much singing of praise for the spirits. More then one Kelari will tell of a heartbreaking story of falling completely in love with a mysterious stranger, only to have them disappear like magic when dawn broke the horizon, having been nothing but a spirit the entire time.
     To not be able to see, hear, or interact with the spirits in any way, is a rare, but devastating condition that sometimes afflicts members of the Kelari race. Those that are struck with this condition are called Nalthema, and are often shunned by the rest of Kelari society, leading sad and broken lives on the outskirts of society. One such famous Nalthema is Sylver Valis, who focused his energies and strength of will toward other pursuits. Mainly, he focused on science and magitech, and eventually was able to successfully engineer the first Defiant Ascended in the distant future of a closed timeline that was diverted by said Ascended going back in time.

Average Lifespan: 300 years
Culture: Mayan
Homeland: Ember Isles (known cities include Atia and Nykantor)
Leader: High Priestess Anthousa Mona
Spirituality: Spirit worship
Favored Mount: Horse and later, mechanical horse. (This is a hard one, because as jungle people, I'd say they'd ride the tiger mounts that are available through the shop, or the crocnards, but since those only became available later, I don't consider them canon mounts. Also it mentions that they ride in carriages that can fly, and since I don't see anything similar to that in game, except perhaps the flying disc things that were only recently introduced in 2015, horses will have to do until I can find some hard evidence!)

References: A lot of this information is taken from talking to Anthousa Mona in the Terminus introduction thing, as well as doing the spirit quest that was removed from the game at some point. More information is provided by talking to Asha, Anthousa Mona, and Rhan Chuluun in Meridian, where you can ask them set questions and they will give little paragraphs of backstory into each culture. Also, information was gleaned from the Rift forums in threads that I can no longer find, as well as the lore pages that Rift site used to have but no longer. The pictures are early concept art of Kelari. The information displayed in the "stats" paragraph was mostly just plugged in by me by paying attention to in game stuff. All except for the first 2 things, which I found through a Q&A session on a website! All this info does not belong to me! It belongs to Trion, who owns Rift, and I'm just writing it here for the benefit of Rift's players!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

[Karazhan's Story] 2.8: Memories from the Sea

   "Have you heard 'The Green Hills of Freemarch?'" the Warden asked me mildly. "Perhaps one day I'll sing it to you, but not while I'm on duty." I sighed gustily, trying to keep a polite and respectful smile on my face. I'd walked up to a Warden standing in a bored fashion by the side of the highway to ask if I was going in the right direction to reach Kelari Refuge, but apparently there were so few interesting travelers on the highway that he had to chat with me. At least I knew I was going in the right direction. Kelari Refuge was actually right ahead, just down the bank! I was so excited to see my countrymen. I waved an impatient good bye to the poor Warden and hurriedly made my way down the highway. The long robes that I'd been garbed in when I'd been created slapped around my ankles as I trotted, but I didn't mind. It felt almost like coming home.

    I got to the crest of the hill before it tapered downward to the beach and stared. I wasn't sure exactly what I was expecting, but it wasn't this. This was barely a cobbled together wooden dock with a few shanties on it. My people called this place home now? Why didn't they move to that one city all the Defiant live in now? What was it called...Meridian? Why would they willingly reside down here on the beach like forgotten waifs. I suppose they wanted to be near the sea. Living on islands, we were always constantly reminded of the sea and the sounds it made. Maybe also the Kelari were hoping that the other ships would eventually make their way here. But I would think after all this time that there was no hope of that. What a sad sight my people now made. I will do my best to help them! With renewed determination, I strode down the hill and approached the little "village". If you could even call it that.

     There were Kelari everywhere. All of them were tending to some task or another. Very few were just lounging about on the wayside. I hadn't realized I'd stopped, until I glanced to the side and saw a man dressed in Warden's colors nearby giving me a compassionate look. I walked over to him, not sure what I should do, now that I was here. A strong feeling inside my chest suggested that I should introduce myself, perhaps try to find some family member, or maybe see what I could do to help out this little community.

     "Why hello there, young Bahmi." The Warden said cheerfully when I approached him. I murmured a quiet hello, still so full of sudden feeling that I couldn't even muster up a proper greeting. The Warden didn't seem to mind. "What brings you here to our humble home?" He asked with a quirk of the lips.

    "Well," I began, and glanced around again. "I'd heard that the Kelari had left their islands and come ashore here. I admit, I was expecting ...I don't know. More, I guess. More of my people, more of a town and less of....this. More." I shrugged helplessly. The Warden gave me a rather strange look, eyeing me closely, and I realized I'd said "my people" as if I were a Kelari. Which I was, in spirit. But my physical shell didn't exactly reveal that. Finally, he waved me over and began walking up one of the wooden walkways that led out over the water, where the small little huts and shanties of the Kelari were situated. I hesitated, but I had wanted to know, so no time for second guesses now! Squaring my rather impressive shoulders and taking a deep breath, I stepped up onto the planks of yew wood that made up the "streets" of the Kelari refuge. The Warden talked as he gave me his tour.
     "Many of the Kelari have left Freemarch, actually and made a life for themselves elsewhere in Telara. The ones you see here are only the select few who fell too much into despair over their broken home to leave here, or those who hope for the rest of the ships to arrive." I drew in a sharp breath. That sounded so...tragic. How sad! Those poor elves, living here while not really living, hoping that the ships will come. After all this time, they must know it's hopeless. But can I blame them? This? This was all that was left of my proud people? Where was the High Priestess though? I asked the Warden that question.
    "Oh, High Priestess Anthousa Mona? She's in Meridian, providing council for the Defiant leaders. She helps her people where she can, make no mistake, but she can only do so much when they refuse to move on." He shrugged hopelessly. I mused over the current High Priestess's name. Anthousa Mona. The same woman who I'd met in the future timeline. It seems that some things hadn't changed too much. While alarming on one hand, it was somewhat comforting to realize that those I'd become acquainted with in the future were still here, still who they were, in this timeline.

     I could hear seagulls crying out in the distance, the birds swooping and diving over the cliffs that marked the edge of Freemarch where it reached the sea. The smell of ocean water was strong, as well as the scent of dead fish and brine. Not a pleasant odor, but it seemed no one here minded. No doubt they were used to it. Warden Nieman stopped before a group of strong looking Kelari men discussing something in front of a rather large building. Must be the leaders of this little town, I thought.

    "This here is Attis Resta." the Warden proclaimed, tilting his head in acknowledgment to the Kelari in ceremonial regalia standing in the center. I hadn't seen such armor in so long....it made me homesick for the Isles. The man, Attis Resta, sized me up, before looking quizzically at the Warden, who shrugged. "She says she's here to offer aid." He said, before waving at me and wandering off, whistling a strange tune. I glanced back at him, before shifting slightly, scuffing the floorboards with my toes. This isn't awkward at all. I cleared my throat.

    "Hello sirs. I am Karazhan Anthanos from...well, I don't have a home at the moment actually, but I suppose you could say I'm a representative of the Defiant. I am what they call an Ascended." I bowed low and formally, as I'd been taught by the priestesses in Atia. The man gasped.

     "An Ascended! Remarkable!" He stepped forward, hand outstretched as if he'd touch me, then looked sheepish and moved back. "What a wonderful occurrence, to have you visit our humble abode! Be welcome here, and if there be anything you need that we can provide, don't hesitate to ask! Being guests here in Freemarch makes us mindful to treat our own guests as best we can." I smiled, relaxing at his friendly, awe-filled speech.
    "You are a Bahmi, are you not?" He continued, looking curious. "Forgive my forwardness, we don't get many Bahmi in our village. They tend to avoid us. Is there anything in particular you were looking for here?" He said the last somewhat more carefully, and I wondered at that.

    "Actually, I'm not really a Bahmi. It's uh...a bit of a complicated story. Perhaps another time. What I would like is to offer your people my aid. Is there anything I can do for you instead? I would like to help out where I can here...maybe see if I can change circumstances for the better. We shouldn't be reduced to this, sitting and moping at the water's edge like lovers waiting for our husband's return. That is not who we are. We are strong, we..." I trailed off as the man was giving me the same strange look that the Warden was. I grinned sheepishly and scratched an ear. Way to make myself look even more weird than usual Kara, I chastised myself.

    "Well...." Attis was still giving me that odd look, as if trying to unravel a puzzle. I kept silent, not wanting to make the matter even more confusing. 'I need to be careful what I say here in the past!' I scolded myself. Obviously telling just any old person, especially those not directly tied to the Defiant or to their military, about my unique status as a displaced soul, wasn't going to be as easily believed as being Ascended. After all, the stories of the Guardians and their own glorious Ascended have already spread throughout the land, so Defiant Ascended wasn't that far of a stretch further. Besides, in the grand scheme of things, I supposed that knowing about my actual true identity wouldn't really make much of a difference. "As the Kelari archipelago sank, my people fled on a makeshift float of ships. The voyage was dangerous and in fact, the last ship we had in sight crashed just off the coast. Our belongings were scattered around the wreck but the creatures of the water make it to dangerous to retrieve them. The Wardens don't deem the risk great enough just to help us reclaim our treasured belongings, and we are so lost here, that I can't organize enough men to dive down as well as keep the divers safe from the Thrashjaws." As he went on about how dangerous it was, and how sad it was that the Kelari possessions and their keepsakes of a better time were at the bottom of the sea, the only thing going through my mind was shock. A ship crashed?? He didn't mention lost lives, so I assumed that at least most of them made it so shore, but still, that was very disheartening. I wonder how many ships there were.

     "What do you mean, a ship crashed? How many ships were there in total? Did all of them make it across the ocean? Did they all land here?" I asked abruptly, interrupting his monologue. Attis frowned and glanced seaward, as if thinking back. His eyes took on a haunted cast and I almost regretted asking. It can't have been pleasant memories.

     "Many ships set out. Only a few actually landed here in Freemarch, where we had planned to arrive. Others hope that the rest of the fleet will come, but...I think it is a doomed hope. But I just can't take it away from them. These elves here, that hope is all that is keeping them sane. There are so few of us left now...." He looked so despairing that I nearly reached out to offer comfort. We may be wary of other races, but we are fiercely loyal and compassionate toward each other. An soft feeling of weightlessness overcame me suddenly, and my mind was filled with the feeling of a loving embrace. I realized that the other souls housed within my physical machine body were trying to comfort me as best they could. What a strange feeling, to share my body with several other ...beings was the only word I could use. I must have been staring off into space for some time, because Attis cleared his throat to get my attention and I turned a soft, compassionate look onto him. He nodded at me. One thing that I really wanted to know, that maybe I could finally find the answer to, was how this had happened.

    "What I'd like to know, is what happened? How did we-you, how did the Kelari come to this? What drove such a proud, powerful people from their homeland?!" I demanded, rather more sharply then I had intended. But I needed to know the answers. It was a building pressure inside of me. With all my new magical strength, all my potential for literally anything I set my mind to, maybe I could find a way to fix the Kelari's new homeless state. We took those islands as our own, and I'd be damned before I let this be our new future!

    Attis gave a forlorn sigh, "Well, the Shade War happened. We didn't know this at the time of course. The Mathosian civil war wasn't something we were aware of, let alone something we'd even bother caring about. But we should have..." He muttered something dark under his breath and I leaned in a little closer, eager for more information. "During the Shade War, something terrible happened. The Mathosian king, he did something to weaken the Ward around Telara that keeps all the planes from interacting with Telara, like how they did a millennia ago....before the dragons. Or so I've heard. When the Ward weakened, the energy from the planes caused a great upheaval along the forest floor. Earthquakes and tidal waves suddenly swamped the islands. It was like the world was ending! The disasters just came coming. But we are indeed, like you mentioned, a proud people. We rallied with our spirit allies and we were able to survive and hold off the elements of water. It seemed that eventually life could continue. But then the spirits became corrupted. We didn't know it at the time, but the dragon of fire also was interested in our island. He was stirring in his prison, and he corrupted our fellow Kelari as well as our spirit patrons. We stood no chance against them combined! It was madness! So many Kelari were slain...." He made a choking noise and stared down at his fists. I wondered what he was seeing. In my mind's eye, I imagined what kind of horrors would be brought about by corrupted spirits and Kelari fighting each other. Not something I would ever want to behold, even in nightmares. Did Ascended dream, I wonder?
     "It was Priestess Mona that saved us in the end." Attis continued, trying to keep his voice level. I almost regretting asking now, but I needed to know. I needed to! "She rallied the rest of us, the ones that weren't corrupted, or too embroiled in fighting to get away cleanly. We met on the beaches, where she had spirits and men magically creating a fleet of ships. I'd never seen the like before! It was so beautiful, so powerful. She is a sight to behold." He breathed in, reverently, and I had to agree there. The High Priestess did indeed have an aura around her, that made others gravitate toward her, to bask in her strength. "We sailed from our homeland that very night, amid the turmoil and terror. Our cities were overrun, burning as we fled. So many lost. And those corrupted Kelari, they were so changed...they didn't even count themselves as Kelari anymore. They called themselves something different...Pyrkari. Strange word." He mumbled, and scrubbed his hand over his face. Then he turned back to me and blinked.

    There was a brief silence, as I absorbed all of this. By the gods. This was a horrible thing. I cannot even imagine that happening. I had just one more question that I needed answered. I whet my lips, feeling my heart begin to speed up. "I have one more thing, and then I thank you for the information. I need to know...what of the Solanta family? They were a rather high ranking family in Atia, close to the temple priests. Do you know what befell them? Did they make it here?" I peered down into his face anxiously, willing him to answer in the positive. Attis tapped his dark lips as he thought.

     "Anthanos? The name rings a bell....they were an influential member of the temple order, were they not?" I nodded eagerly. He paused another moment, then shrugged helplessly. "I'm terribly sorry, but I don't know. I haven't heard anything about any of the Anthanos family. But then again, I haven't really heard anything specific about any of the high ranking families of either city. But why would you....ah, it must be part of that "complicated story" you referenced." He said, the light coming back to his eyes. I smirked sheepishly and nodded. Well, no news was good news, right? Just because he didn't know, didn't mean that others wouldn't. Or that the rest of my family and loved ones weren't out there somewhere. I wouldn't give up hope!

    After that rather grim tale, we both just kind of stood there a moment, until Attis noticed his companions, still standing at his side and cleared his throat. "Oh, how rude of me! These are my fellow assistants here at the refuge. They help keep the place in order. Kosmo Balli here, was the one who saved the last few fire squirrels left in our possession. Back on the isles, he was a breeder of them. He helps organize hunts for fresh meat and fruit in the march. And this," He gestured to his other side, where a pretty, willowy looking female elf was idly trimming her nails with a dagger. "this is Acacia Sideris. She has a sharp tongue, but her services are invaluable here! She has taught the others how to survive here on the beach by learning to fish and how to craft basic survival things, back before we set up these buildings." Acacia scoffed, then looked me up and down.

    "It irritates me when I hear my people whining for the islands." She said coldly, giving Attis a sharp look. "We have survived and we must adapt to our new home and move on. There's no sense grieving over what is lost." She tossed a long black braid over her shoulder and sheathed her dagger. I could see her view, but at the same time, if we didn't stay true to our past, to our heritage, were we really Kelari? In fact...was I really a Kelari anymore? And a new thought hit me. By the spirits! What if I couldn't interact with and communicate with the spirits myself anymore? What if I was...Nalthema? A shiver of alarm darted down my spine and I staggered back a step. Holy mother of spirits. I'd never thought of this before. Was I truly a Kelari anymore? If I wasn't, what was I? My soul seemed to cry out in anguish and I hunched forward. The soothing feeling of the other souls inside all rose up, surrounding me, comforting me, providing solace. They were all alone too, they whispered. We were a family, we souls sharing this one body. We would always be together, even through death. A new bond forged itself then, between my soul and the other souls. I felt them so strongly, as if with just a simple thought, I could relive any one of their lives, know any one of their collection of spells and skills, gain their knowledge. It was amazing, the feeling of power and invincibility that came to me. What did it matter really, what race I was in the beginning? What race we were. We were Ascended now. I straightened up, feeling a new inner strength of spirit that fanned the flames of my soul. The confliction of who I was verses who I am now, which I hadn't even realized was going on, seemed to just vanish, and I felt so much lighter. So much more full at the same time. I smiled, and I felt like the sun smiled through me. I blinked my eyes, and it seemed I saw so much more than before. The world was so much richer. And...oh dear, they were all staring at me.

    "So....I heard you wanted help getting your possessions off the sunken ship?" I finally said, as a way to break the ice, and because I recalled what Attis had first been going on about before I'd asked about the fate of the Kelari. The three glanced at each other, somewhat skeptically, and I crossed our arms, resisting the urge to tap a foot. I was so closely tied to the other souls now, I could feel what they felt as well. It was so strange.

    "Ah, yes. If you wouldn't mind? I have heard stories that the Ascended are immortal and are able to shrug off what a normal man would die from. We would be eternally grateful for just a few things from the ship. Perhaps we could describe what to look for?" I waved a hand casually.
    "No need, I know what to look for." I said, voice soft and rough at the same time. Interesting, even our voice has changed. And just when I was getting to used to how we sounded, I mused to myself with a grin. A few of the souls chimed in with silent laughter.
     I can't say as I was overly fond of water, which is ironic, considering I'd been born a Kelari on an island in the middle of the ocean, but there it was. It took me some time to swim out to where the sunken ship was said to be located. It wasn't far, per se, but the water was indeed quite deep, and cold to boot. I soon learned though, that although the water was icy cold, it didn't actually have any impact on my health. Our body's temperature seemed to rise to counter the cold. The trashjaws that Attis mentioned were large, leathery looking creatures that resembled crocodiles, but were much bigger, and more vicious. They seemed to sense my presence and I had to beat off and even kill quite a few of the pesky beasts before I was able to reach the ship. From there, I dived down into the water, mildly curious as to how long I could hold my breath as an Ascended. I found out it was quite some time, although it wasn't infinite. Eventually my lungs grew so starved for air that I had to surface, gasping for breaths.

    I found quite a few interesting Kelari artifacts half buried in the sand at the bottom. The ship itself was staved in at the bow, and I surmised that it must have hit the nearby reef and floundered. It was close enough to shore though, that I was confident most had made it safely to shore without too much trouble, although the presence of the thrashjaws no doubt posed a threat. But it wasn't anything I could help with now, and going about slaying all the creatures I could find seemed rather a silly way to get revenge for their having possibly eaten one of my friends or family members 20 some odd years ago. So I avoided them when I could, and gathered what small trinkets and items that I thought the Kelari would value the most. Perhaps they could even find a way to replicate some of these things, or sell them for tools or materials in Meridian. It would be nice to visit a city again.

     Once my arms and my pouches were all full of sunken treasures, I headed back to shore, the journey much more difficult this time around with my burden. When I heaved the lot on the planks by Attis, all three of them looked so impressed that it caused a chuckle.

    "I told you I was Ascended." I said simply.

     "So you did." Attis replied, and bent to look at the things I'd fetched. Most of them were rusted, or had algae on them, and a few were covered in sand and so roughened that any patterns or likenesses had been rubbed off by the force of the tides on the ocean floor. "Thank you very much, Karazhan Ascended." Attis said, looking up. His face was so full of hope and emotion. It caused a smile to form on my face. I was so glad to be able to help, even over something so little. I wish I had knowledge they did, from being here. They have learned to adapt, even grudgingly, in the years they've been in Freemarch. Even the ones sitting here on the beach and "moping" as Acacia had said, had still found a way to survive. It got me thinking.

     "Um, lady Acacia?" I asked, not really knowing how to address her. She cocked her head at me. "Attis mentioned that you taught the others certain skills? Can you teach me too?" I held out my hands in a helpless way. "I may be Ascended and very strong, but I don't know any basic skills or survival techniques. I would like to know what plants and fruits can be eaten and how to cook them, and how to catch fish and cook them. No doubt, I'll need skills like that at some point." In fact, I'd count on it. I had plans to travel this new world, after all. I had a second lease on life, and I was going to explore Telara as far as I could, help those who were in need, and maybe make a difference. I think that would be a wonderful use of my talents. Every little thing we did seemed to do some good, and I could even picture us, down the road, aiding towns and villages, slaying the elemental beasts that spewed forth from those rifts. And maybe along the way I could find a way to keep Regulos from ever entering Telara, as well as making sure the other dragons stayed put in their prisons.

     Acacia looked me over with a new eye, as if seeing me for the first time. Or measuring my potential to learn what she had to teach. Well, I had no doubts on that end. If there's one thing I learned from my brief time as an Ascended, it was that I was a fast learner. In fact, fast learner didn't even touch upon the miraculous, lighting fast speed at which I picked up new skills and spells. In fact, I was quite confident now that my earlier conviction in becoming a healer was in fact an easy reality. One of the souls was a Chloromancer, in fact, and was eager to share her knowledge of the healing arts with me. Dealing out death with one hand, and raising up allies with the other. I liked it.

     "Sure, I can teach you, if you can learn." Acacia finally responded, sassily. I grinned at her. "Oh, you can be sure I will learn." I promised.