Friday, February 28, 2014

[Books and Artifacts] VIII: March Warden Denegar

     This book is a brief look at the March Warden currently in command of Freemarch during the Shade War and the disasters that followed:

"...I have been elected the forty-third March Warden of the Freemarch.
It will be my duty until my death to see that our people have food in their bellies, shields from the evil that threaten them, and a fulfilled promise of liberty. Our people facea strange time.
We have always been loyal to members of the Mathos Empire, even though the Freemarch became a part of the Empire with the promose that we would maintain the self-ruling of which we are so proud.
But in the wake of the disaster the Shade has wrecked upon our lands, we find ourselves once again completely free of influence. The tattered remains of the empire are held together by the valiant Zareph, but it is all he can do to keep the forces of the planes at bay. We must once again see to our own future. It is a task I believe we are prepared to face, however, and I am honored to be at the helm of it."
An artifact set you can complete also has some relevance here. It is called "Icons of the March Wardens". The description reads "The March Wardens of Freemarch adopted an icon to represent their period of authority over the March." There is a list of items:

  • Gold Eye
  • Geometric Sun
  • Bound Hammers
  • Gold Drake
  • Winged Helm
  • Twin Lion
I would assume, since it is the last on the list, that the Twin Lion is March Warden Denegar's insignia, but I have no way of knowing of course.  
References: This is a direct quote from the in game book that can be collected in Rift about the leader of the March Wardens. You can add the book to your collection by completing the artifact set "Journal of March Warden Denegar", which requires the collection of several pages that you can find randomly spread around Freemarch. When you finish the artifact set and turn it in, you are rewarded with the book, which you can than find in your book tab in the character window, along with all the other books you find in your adventures! 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

[Karazhan's Story] 2.10: Mayhem in the Fields!

      So here I found myself heading back to Todrin Estate to cause a little chaos, and maybe try to figure out just what exactly the Endless Court were up to here. Spirits willing, maybe I can even put a stop to their machinations.

     As before, I slipped into the grounds through the gaping hole in the side of the stone wall that skirted the Estate's property, keeping my eyes sharp for the enemy. The Endless Court may be comprised of people, but I had no delusions that they were crazed fanatics who were taken over wholly by Regulos and his promise of untold power. There would be no reasoning with them and if I wanted to stay alive, I needed to shoot first and ask questions never. I heard a strange dry rustling sound as I approached the house and ducked into a shallow alcove, peering out cautiously. To my horror, there was some kind of...undead creature, roaming and stumbling around mindlessly by the front door. The remains of clothing clung to its emaciated frame and the empty eye socked glowed with eldritch light. I put a hand to my mouth to contain my gasp. The cultists must be raising the dead to do their bidding. Was there no end to their atrocities? Well, at least I can put this poor tormented soul out of its misery. With a fast hand movement, I sent arcs of flame at the skeletal being, as quickly and quietly as I could so as to not draw any attention. The last thing I needed was to alert all the cultists in the compound to my presence. Infiltrate and cause chaos, not all out massacre. Right. As the first burst of magical flames struck the skeletal undead man and burst over his flesh and bones with unnatural vigor, I'd already began casting another. The creature stuttered to a stop and turned with a dry slowness to stare right at my hiding place in the alcove, its unseeing eyes peering right into mine. I shivered. It began a fast shambling in my direction, and another bolt of bright hot flames exploded into its jawless face, causing it to stumble sideways. I dearly prayed to the spirits that the poor soul couldn't feel its second death as I finally melted its bones and flesh with a flamestrike that also scorched the ground in a perfect circle around its still-twitching body. After a few tense moments to assure myself that no one was alerted to my actions, I stepped out of hiding and approached the dead thing. Undead thing. Whatever it was. I used the end of my staff to prod at the bones, ensuring it was actually dead, and the skull folded in on itself, turning to ash at my touch. I shuddered. Truly horrendous, what the cultists have done. I whispered a quick prayer for the soul to find the Soulstream quickly and avoid Regulos's hands, then moved on. At least with it's body in ashes like this, it would impossible to reanimate.

     I did see several more of the resurrected undead creatures, slaying those that were close enough to do so without being detected. On the second one, I found a strange, tiny square of metal that bore the mark of the Endless Court-a white skull on a black background with a purple border. I pocketed the insignia. Maybe Cyriac would appreciate the sight of it as vengeance for his slain comrades.

     "The people of this March are fools for giving the witch refuge!" The shouted, guttural voice brought me up short as I came around the back corner of the house and I shrank back, heart pounding, then slowly peered around the corner. Two men in long dark robes with white skulls painted over their faces were lounging by crates of various items. I frowned. What did that cultist mean, 'giving the witch refuge?' What witch? I made a mental note to ask someone about that when I was safely away from here. I watched the two cultists for several long moments, before they finally stirred and went back inside the house, grumbling to each other about the people of the March. 'If you're so unhappy, leave then!' I thought to myself in frustration. It would certainly make all our lives easier.

     Beyond the house, I spotted a low shed by the far stone wall. A large tree gave blessed shade from the hot sun and about half a dozen bovine were peacefully grazing on the grass and clover that seemed to grow in abundance around the grounds. The peaceful and lazy picture was totally at odds with what I'd just experienced, and I found myself almost not believing it wasn't some mirage or trick. The steers didn't seem bothered at all by the death magic permeating the air, their shaggy heads bobbing up and down as they chewed. Hmmm, how to cause a disturbance and disrupt these bloody cultists' plans. I needed something to get them good and spooked. I know a fair number of nasty weather spells that could probably startle the dumb farm animals. Some mages, like myself, had a knack for storm type magic, and forks of lighting was something I could call up almost instantly, but it didn't seem like such a good idea to be sending off magical jolts of high electric power into the midst of a herd of live creatures. Not unless I want some hamburger for supper. I'm not above defending myself and raining down death and mayhem on those that are deserving, but I would rather not harm innocent animals. I even hesitated in the harming of these human cultists, because they were only human after all and we all make mistakes. Who knows what decision drove them to sign up for Regulos's cause? So fire magic and weather magic was out of the way, unless I could whip up some strong rains and winds, but I wasn't as well versed in those spells and again, didn't want to risk harming the innocent steers if I could help it.
     So what else could I use, than? I glanced around the back yard, considering my options. Up against the back veranda was more stacked crates and some other odds and ends that looked to have been tossed out of the house when the cultists moved in. One crate had the universal explosives symbol painted on the side and I grinned rather deviously. Inside, the other souls fluttered with eagerness as well. Didn't everyone enjoy the feeling of blowing things up at least once? I will admit that I do.

     Sure enough, when I'd snuck up to the crate and nabbed it, it was chalk full of different types of explosive devices, some magitech, some old fashioned powder and fuse. I grinned like a naughty novice as I pocketed a few and placed the crate back where I'd found it. It was tempting to take the crate back with me, but I was afraid I'd trip or something equally disastrous and blow my lovely Ascended brains all over the pretty green grass. Something I'd like to avoid if possible. My body may be just a machine, a shell that houses my soul that in theory I should be able to return to if separated from it and heal all damage, but let's not test that, hmm? Not to mention it sounded painful as hells.
     So, being the good citizen I was, I crept back to my previous hiding place, lobbed a few low-grade explosives near to the cows, and with some painful concentration was able to get off two simultaneous fire spells. One exploded into the side of the crate at the same time as a stream of bright orange fire lit up the little devices littering the ground at the steers feet. Predictably, the creatures went wild, and chaos sort of exploded in the yard. Cultists spilled out of the house yelling and swearing, both in the common tongue and in some undead demonic language. Serves them right.

     The steers, wild with sudden fear, stampeded in all different directions. Some smashed right through the stone wall, lowing and bawling their fright to all and sundry as they vanished into the green. Others turned tail and ran headlong into the cultists that were milling around by the house, knocking them over like saplings. I prayed that none happened to glance my way and see me crouched by the side of the house. I turned to sneak away and tripped over yet another crate, and let myself spit out a string of curses. That bloody hurt! I rubbed my shin as I glared at the box that had offended me. Unlike the others, this one was a shiny metal box with a blue sheen to it. Curiosity overcame my aggravation and I lifted the lid, sucking in a shocked breath. Inside, dozens upon dozens of sourcestone glowed brightly, giving off a dark aura of planar magic. And I knew just what kind too. The scent of death was almost overpowering. The Shadestones were fully charged, all that potential power just sitting right there for whatever the cultists intended to use it. I couldn't just let them keep it. So with a swift look around, I grabbed up the crate, making an oomph sound at how heavy it was.

     I waddled rather awkwardly back to the gap in the wall, shoving the box through and sneaking after it, looking back repeatedly to make sure no one saw me. Thankfully they were all trying to either round up the steers or put out the fire that had resulted from the crate of explosives going off so close to the house. I grinned. Perfect. That aught to keep them out of trouble for a while and off our backs. Job well done, if I do say so myself. And I didn't even have kill any of the cultists.

    "So I nabbed this box of sourcestone and high-tailed it back here. But, thanks to Jared over there and his crazy Life energy experiments, I was attacked by a giant, crazed razorback boar!" I glared mock-angrily at the elf, who ducked, looking sheepish, and I rolled my eyes. "But hey, at least they won't be causing trouble around here for a while. Their base of operations has....well, it's exploded." I snickered, even though it honestly wasn't that funny, and Cyriac nodded at me proudly, smiling a little himself. I handed over the insignias I'd gathered up, mentioning that my theory was they were helping the cultists control their undead minions, and he thoughtfully gave them to a fellow standing silently to the side.

     "Good thinking, Karazhan. We will certainly melt these down and make arrowheads out of them. Shoot them right back at those bastards." He clasped my hand and shook it, looking relieved and worried at the same time. I cocked an eyebrow. "What's wrong, you don't look very happy." I asked, feeling a little niggle of concern myself.

    Cyriac rubbed the back of his head, sticking his hair in all directions. "I-we do appreciate your efforts, Karazhan." He said slowly. I nodded, feeling a 'but' coming. "I don't like the feel of these sourcestone. Unfortunately, I've felt this exact magical signature before. Before coming here to help out the folks of Eliam Fields, I was stationed at Seastone Bluff with the rest of the command. Our forces encountered a dark being there calling itself Xalos." I frowned, processing this information. A dark being? So...something from the planes, I guess, if it had the same magical aura as the sourcestone. A being from the Plane of Death, loose in Freemarch. Great. Cyriac continued, looking out toward where I could see the terrain sharply turn into a large jutting mountain. From here, I could even just make out black turrets of what looked to be a castle or keep or some kind. That must be where Seastone Bluff is, I assumed.
     "We were able to drive the beast back, but it had some magical device that allowed it to slip into a planar flux, which is sort of like a pocket rift. It must be working with the cultists to gain them fresh Shadestone for their attack." His shoulders slumped and he gave the crate of sourcestone a baleful look, as if blaming it for Xalos's continued survival. I frowned at the crate myself.

    "Not if I slay the beast." I said, narrowing my eyes in determination. Cyriac blinked at me in surprise. "What? No, you can't go after it alone! It took seven of us to beat it back, and I lost two of my best men on that mission. You'll be killed." Any other time, I might have agreed with the man, and indeed I was comforted by his concern, but I waved my large hand. "It's okay," I said softly. "I'm Ascended remember? I was created for this." I smiled gently and put my hand on my hip. "No offense, but I'm more than capable of taking on a planar foe alone. Especially if the creature is already wounded. Time to see what exactly I'm remade of." I grinned, feeling sparks of excitement grow inside me. An actual enemy, a foe that is a real challenge that I don't have to hold back all my potential on. I don't have to feel guilty about harming a fellow Telaran, or wondering if they have a family somewhere despite their wayward path. This creature is an unnatural evil riftspawn that came to Telara for one purpose. Destruction and chaos. I will have no qualms about extinguishing it. Cyriac looked equal parts concerned and relieved, giving me short, careful looks as if wanting to make sure I would be ok.

     "I'll be fine, I promise. Consider it as pest control. Can't have this beautiful March overrun by planar beasts. Especially from the death plane. Can't be good for the flora." He chuckled at my quip and finally gave me directions on how to find where Xalos had last been seen, as well as a message to relay to the officers at Seastone Bluff when I had finished. I gave Cyriac an exaggerated salute. "Aye, aye, cap'n!" I said cheerily.
     The view from Seastone Bluff would have been quite beautiful if it wasn't for the obvious aura of dark magic choking it. It was apparent even before I'd entered the grounds that the place was some kind of warden's watchtower for the Freemarch folk. It was a perfect vantage point to keep a lookout for any trouble in the region, after all, and had the familiar architectural design of other buildings in the march. Sadly, it was also apparent that it had been overrun by cultists for some time. I wasn't sure why the wardens hadn't taken the tower back. Lack of manpower perhaps? More pressing concerns than one lookout tower? I had no way of knowing. It was a shame though, because the tower overlooked the sea with a perfect view of the seemingly endless body of water, along with quite a few miles of the march in either direction. I could easily see the Todrin Estate and Eliam Fields from here and I fancied that if there were another Ascended at Cyriac's location, they might even be able to discern me waving if I were so inclined. And if I had an Ascended companion to share my adventures and journey with, of course.

     There were planar death symbols everywhere on the tower grounds, defiling the once proud land with the foul metallic taint of death magic. I knew of course that death magic had its uses just like any other element, but I just couldn't justify its use when I knew that those accursed cultists were also reverently used it to cause mayhem and misery wherever they went. The front gates that were supposed to provide safety and security for the tower were smashed in and hanging off their hinges. I approached the area with tense caution. I had no idea what to expect, and Cyriac's description of the place was a few months out of date. A lot can change in that amount of time. Despite its eerie planar taint, the grounds appeared deserted, still as death. I had the feeling that the world was holding its breath, waiting to see what I would do.

     Once inside the gate, I found my fearful caution giving way to curiosity and excitement. I loved exploring new places, and I found myself peering around as I walked. Immediately to the left of the gate was a small, domed building with an open archway. A chapel for the wardens to pray at? I heard that the people of Freemarch had belonged to the Vigil. I think in fact that some still do follow their ways and teachings, although it seemed now that most believed the gods had forsaken them and their only chance at survival was to ally with the Defiant "heretics" as they kept calling us. Carefully placed flagstones led from the little domed building to the central tower, which was at least three stories tall. It was narrow and simply constructed, made specifically to be a lookout first and foremost. If I were an evil planar being of death who wanted control of this area, where would I spend my days? I gazed up at the top of the tower and smirked. Of course, the very top, where I could see everything. After making sure there weren't any enemies lurking around a corner to ambush me, I ascended a wooden spiral staircase located in the tower that wove around the inside wall all the way up to the top. At each floor there was a room filled with old dusty furniture and weapon racks. No doubt where the wardens slept and practiced with weaponry to stay sharp and alert.

     The stairs ended at the roof, which was wide open. There was a low wall around the plateau with niches in it. It was easy to imagine the wardens sitting up here, steadfast in their duty to keep Freemarch safe. If only they knew the enemy they faced now couldn't be fought with just spears and swords. The only sign of life up here was a small glowing brazier opposite my position, a beacon proclaiming that at least some creature had been up here recently. I stretched my magical senses outward slowly, trying to feel for any trap or magical snare. Nothing gave me any warnings, but I could pick up a dark magical signature coming from the brazier. That must be where the planar flux is that the elemental was hiding in. What was it Cyriac called it? Xalos I think? I took a deep breath of the death-tainted air. Was I ready? Hells yes. Time to show the minions of Regulos that I was someone to be reckoned with and if he wanted to take Telara, he'd have a fight on his hands first.

     Magical runes pulsed in a circle around the brazier, glowing with an inner violet light, the color of death magic. Yes, this was definitely the spot. I wondered idly how the elemental being was able to hide itself so well. Could he still see the physical world while in that pocket of planar energy? No matter, I suppose. I took out the charged device that Cyriac had given me, smiling fondly at the memory of his warning to be careful and not get myself killed. I wasn't sure how death worked in my new incarnation, but I'd been assured multiple times that it wouldn't be permanent. I gently tossed the tiny device into the brazier, not knowing what else to do with it, and the result was immediate. The air grew ice cold and a strange, foul smelling wind came out of nowhere, lifting strands of hair off my neck. I took a step back and planted my feet in a battle stance, an instinctive reaction that wasn't mine. Having the memories of the other souls was a tremendous advantage against an enemy combatant. Not that I'd ever dreamed of fighting and slaying when I'd been an innocent scholar at the temples of Atia.
     Just as I was finding it becoming difficult to breath through the thick, cold air, a ghostly, oily black shadow twice my height manifested inside the circle of runes. I couldn't hold back my gasp of shock at seeing the creature. It looked like those shadowy planar beings I'd encountered during my time in the future...what seemed like an age ago now after all that's happened. Except this one exuded raw power. The sheer elemental power rolling off the creature hit me like a physical slap and I flinched back, reigning in my magical senses so I wouldn't be so overwhelmed by the death magic assaulting my senses. Most mages are incredibly sensitive to magic. We'd have to be if we wanted to be any good at our craft. Of course there were drawbacks to that extreme sensitivity. I felt a headache begin to form between my eyes and resisted the urge to shut my eyes, knowing I had to keep full concentration on the elemental.

     The being, Xalos, seemed to focus its shadowy sourcestone eyes on me with a malice and arrogance that spoke just much of a threat he thought one puny Telaran was to something from the planes. "You have torn me from the void? Fool, I know not how you have done this, but you will face my wrath!" It's voice was cold as death and echoed oddly, like the creature was only half here.

     "Um, can't we talk about this?" I muttered, trying to buy time as I ran through a list of spells I knew and tried to decide which would be most effective. I'd have only one shot at doing enough damage to slow it down, because once it got a taste of how powerful my own magic was, it wouldn't hesitate at throwing all the death magic at its disposal on me, and I could barely concentrate through the aura of darkness as it was now.

     "Puny mortal! Alsbeth has commanded me to conquer the shorelines. I will not fail my masters." Masters huh? So, this creature was just a pawn in a bigger game. I wanted to ask what Alsbeth needed here, or what her goal was, but I figured that Xalos would no doubt catch on that I was here to put an end to her plans and wouldn't spill anyway, so instead I brought both hands up and together in front of me in a waving arc, trailing tendrils of air and water magic as I did so. When I brought both palms together in front of me and twisted them so my fingers pointed at Xalos, a spear of ice suddenly slammed into his shadowy body. I put all my will and magical force behind the attack and was satisfied when Xalos gave a loud roar of agony, flickering and fading. The taint of death on the wind sharply faded. The creature wavered, fading out of existence for a moment, before solidifying again with another roar, this one of anger and frustration. Ha, found that he couldn't run back to the planar flux and hide this time. That device Cyriac gave me would wedge the flux firmly closed, unable to be entered on this end. Too bad Xalos didn't know that he just had to pluck the device out of the fire to escape. Instead, he charged me, enraged and now fearful.

     I leaped out of the way, tucking myself in for an expert roll to avoid him. Only I forgot the height and build difference of my new sourcestone body and ended up sprawled out on my back instead, feeling mortified. Air whistling behind me alerted me to Xalos and I rolled to the side to avoid a dark splash of planar death magic that hit the flagstones and sizzled not an inch from my wide eyes. The magical backlash stung my eyes and I scrambled back to avoid it, bumping up against the low wall that edged the roof. Something hit my bare thigh and my flesh suddenly felt like it was burning and freezing at the same time. I gave a pained grunt and grit my teeth. By the spirits, that hurt. The death magic was now so strong in the air that I was having trouble concentrating on where exactly Xalos was. Taking a wild guess, I shot a stream of ice in the direction where the most dark magic was emanating from and was rewarded with a hissing sound, like air leaking out of a canister. The death magic lessened again. Good, take that you bloody monster. I squinted against the pain of my wound, which seemed to be traveling up my leg into my stomach. My entire lower half now felt like ice that burned. That can't be good. When I tried to stand, I stumbled onto my knees instead. Alright, think. Obviously I was right in that the ice magic was effective against the elemental. I needed something more potent though. What spell could I use.

     Xalos rushed at me again and almost by reflex I held out my hand and felt a strong wind chill gust outward, hitting the planar creature and sending it hurling backward to hit the low wall. I blinked in surprise at my hand. I didn't even know I could do something like that! Now that I'd done it though, it was like a map had opened it up in my head, giving me the exact ability to use that spell from now on. That was amazing. I felt a thrill of power shoot through me, as if my magic had hit a plateau and was now increasing. No, not my magic, but my skill at using it. As if I'd opened new doors in my mind that allowed me access to higher and more deadly spells. I was so exciting to see what else I could do. Calling up the memory of the book of higher level mage spells I'd read, I singled out a spell that I'd always wanted to try, but hadn't been strong enough or skilled enough to pull off. I painfully and stiffly climbed to my feet, while Xalos hovered, spitting at me in some dark guttural tongue. I imagine he was cursing my lineage or some such. Well, I've cursed my lineage often enough myself in my youth. I brought my staff to bear in front of my body in perfect symmetry with my body, holding it just the way the book had said, and feeling the potential for magic shimmering down my wooden rod and through my fingers. I whispered the words to the spell and felt a broad smile light my face despite the situation as the air grew colder still. Cold as ice. Although this was a pure cold, the type of cold that you felt right before a good hard rain. Or a hailstorm. Suddenly large jagged chunks of ice began pelting down on the tower in a wide frontal cone from the point of my staff onward. The book had stressed that the position of your weapon was of grave importance in this particular spell because of the deadly force of the spell. Once unleashed, it wouldn't hesitate to harm both friend or foe, so I had to be careful where I'd focused it. But I'd done it! I'd actually successfully cast my first hailstorm. Could I now call myself a proper Stormcaller mage? All my young life before my resurrection, that had been my dream. To gain my initiation into the ranks of the Stormcallers, earn my title, and finally be free of the oppressive obligation to my family and their demands. But now that I was someone else, somewhere else, in a grim all out war for the salvation of all of Telara, was being a Stormcaller the right choice? What about my belief that Telara needed a healing hand as well as a protector? Could I be both?

     I was pelted on the arm by a rather large shard of ice as penalty for my lack of attention and I focused back on the fight at hand. One thing at a time, Kara! I scolded myself. I sagged in relief as I realized that the shadowy planar elemental had withered under my magical onslaught of ice magic. The hail ripped right through the shadowy creature's "body" like it was nothing but wet paper, and I paused a moment to reflect on how overly effective my magic actually seemed to be against planar beings. From my interaction with the peoples of Freemarch, it seemed that others weren't so lucky in their interaction with planar enemies. Was it my particular branch of magic-storm magic-or was it because of my unique status as a machine-made reborn being with multiple souls of other long dead powerful mages locked inside? Again I found myself with many questions but no real easy and apparent answers. Well, I'd heard that Meridian was the capital of the Defiant's forces against the planes, as well as being a college of magical and planar study at some point, so it stood to reason that if I were to find the answers anywhere, it would be there. After I'd felt secure in the knowledge that Freemarch was free of this Alsbeth, I would be definitely making a trek to that big, famous city. The more I heard about it, the more I couldn't wait to feast my eyes on it. My eyes were drawn to the dwindling Xalos again as with one final wail of fury, he flickered and seemed to fold in on himself, just like those other planar creatures had. A soft pop was more felt than heard over the crashing of hail onto the stone and all that was left of the once-powerful Xalos was a small shining black orb that radiated dark planar power. Curiously, I approached, feeling that I could finally move my leg muscles a bit, although it still felt stiff and tingly. The icy burning feeling was finally fading and I thanked the spirits that I didn't seem to have any lasting effects from tangling with the death magic. I could just imagine the nightmares I'll have of being corrupted by death magic and turning into some kind of nightmare being that went on an unstoppable rampage, killing innocent women and children and dealing massive damage to everything in my path. Thankfully, Ascended were immune to corruption. least I hoped so.

     I pocketed the little orb of shadestone, not knowing if it would come in handy at some point or not. It may have been tainted by planar death magic, but it was still sourcestone and sourcestone shouldn't just left lying around for anyone to stumble across. Especially in such a defiled place as this. I shivered as the air finally returned to the balmy warmth that seemed to be normal for Freemarch. I rubbed my knee absently to release the last of the icy tingles as I hobbled over to the wall and set my staff up against it. It was a nice staff, that was true, but after channeling that much magical power into it, I could now sense the flaws and uneven quality of the wood, and it itched at my senses like a drawing that wasn't finished. I would need to find a new, more refined weapon to help focus my greater channeling if I wanted to continue with the higher level spellcasting. Which I most certainly did. Just thinking about that hailstorm again made me feel as giddy as a young acolyte again. If only I had someone else to share this sense of wonder with. As I thought this, my eyes roved over the land. From here, and with my modified eyesight, I could quite clearly pick out every detail for what had to be last a league in any direction. Absolutely amazing. Truly a wonder of magitech, as Sylver had said. Than I frowned as my eyes caught something disturbing. Off to the south, the land seemed to suddenly change. The grass ended abruptly on dead brown earth at the base of that strange keep I'd noticed before.

     Men in Defiant colors paced around a little watchtower that sat at the edge of the green land. They appeared to be frustrated by something from their actions, and at first I couldn't see what the men so upset, but I realized with alarm that the brown dead area seemed to be moving! Rather, there were things moving among the dead grasses and trees. Undead things. They bore the same red and gold armor as the Defiant, but were rotting soulless creatures that even from here I knew had been touched by the death plane. Was this part of Alsbeth's plan, I wonder? She had to be up to something, creating an army of horrific undead slaves to relentlessly attack Freemarch's defenders. I wonder if she wanted the Wardens so distracted and exhausted by the multiple onslaughts that they wouldn't be able to spare the time to investigate what she herself was up to? Regardless, I knew I had to do something about what was going on down there! Those poor Defiant soldiers looked exhausted themselves and I saw that they were effectively pinned down at that watchtower, unable to send for aid, or to break through the ranks of undead that seemed to surround them. It wasn't apparent from this far away if the undead were deliberately keeping them hemmed in, or if it was just coincidence that they happened to have trapped a small force of Defiant in their midst as they went about some other mission.

     Quickly, I strode down the tower's staircase, only limping slightly. I suppose I should be grateful I hadn't been crippled or permanently marred by that magical attack. As it was, I wouldn't even show a mark, thanks to my accelerated healing. I wondered if that was a result of my new magical potential or of my unique status of having a sourcestone-generated body. Ugh, enough questions. Was I always this inquisitive? No wonder the temple priests avoided me as a child. I determinedly strode off in the direction of the Defiant camp I'd seen.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

[Dungeons, Slivers and Chronicles] II: Darkening Deeps

Dungeon Name: Darkening Deeps (DD)
Location: Gloamwood
Co ordinates: 5146, 2406
Bosses: Alchemist Braxtepel, Michael Bringhurts, Tegenar Deepfang, Gedlo Council (Incinerator Gerbik, Warlord Swedge, High Shaman Nuggo) There are additional bosses named Skarn and Glubmuk in Expert and Master modes of the dungeon.
Dungeon level: 21-28(*you can of course, mentor down or up to enter, but only if you are 15 or higher.*)
Length: Depending on your group's speed and skill at downing the bosses. A few of them in particular are pretty hard unless your group knows what they are doing or are overpowered. I'd say around 30-50 min.

     In the deepest part of Gloamwood sits an ancient ruined Mathosian castle known as Shadefallen Keep. Beneath this castle, however, the dark caverns and dank canals are alive with the frenzy of riftspawn. The goblins have built a home for themselves into the cliffs here, their hovels lining a rocky path that descends deep into the bedrock of Telara. Daily, the goblin hoards crawl from the depths to attack and pillage the people of Gloamwood.
     The people were barely able to keep back and contain the menace, until Fire Rifts spit out the Gedlo priests, who swiftly took control of the chaotic and mindless goblins, turning them into a brutal fighting force that even heavily armored Waykeepers had trouble dealing with. Always violent and savage creatures, the newfound attacks took a heavy toll on the people of Gloamwood. When goblin raiders spilled into Silverwood, burning and rampaging at will, cries for aid caused Prince Hylas to turn to new allies for aid against the threat. Now Darkening Deeps lays like a smoldering anthill, ready to burst open at the first hint of vulnerability.
     Adventurers who brave the deeps will behold a vast underground chasm filled with the stench of fire and goblins. Goblins will mindlessly attack any venture within, spurred on by the magic of their Gedlo masters. Sadly, goblins aren't the only menace in the deep. Spiders from Silkweb Pass are rumored to nest in deep, forgotten chambers, luring unwary creatures to their deaths. And the ancient waterways that fill the cracks at the bottom of the city have been invaded by polluted water elementals, warped by the evil of the Gedlo.
     Several villagers from the Pines have vanished after encounters with goblin war parties. Sometimes, on clear nights, one can hear their desperate cries, strangely mutating into the howling of wolves when the moon is full, though no wolves are known to live in Gloamwood. Even stranger, treants have become more scarce, and though locals care little for the invaders from the Plane of Life, their disappearance definitely created a stir. Some say it is connected to the goblin city.
 From the report of Commander Oakheart, Paladin of the 8th Sanctuary Guard in Gloamwood:
"Three times we've stormed the den of those filthy goblin priests.
And three times we've been pushed back. By now my sword shows more blood
than steel, yet still we can't break through.
I have heard tales of villagers taken prisoner, offered as sacrifices in those halls
that we cannot breach. As we struggled there with the goblins,
I noticed ten long bloody scratches in the rock beneath our feet.
A loose human nail lay where one of the scratches ended.
These degenerates have never shown such ferocity as when defending these halls.
My stealthier comrades have seen goblins regard the chambers
with gleeful reverence, as if they hide a weapon of vast power and destruction.
Whatever they're hiding, whether or not we receive reinforcements,
the goblins have abducted my men, and I will not let them die
under a gedlo dagger!"
  • "The Toxic Source"
    • Quest Giver: Marshal Oakheart (Gloamwood Pines)
    • Find the missing squad of crusaders as well as the source of the Gedlo Conclave's new power.
  • "Dragon Worship"
    • Quest Giver: Crusader Bertrand (inside the dungeon)
    • Destroy the Idols of Maelforge
  • "The Darkening Deeps"
    • Automatic quest gained when you zone in
    • Defeat the bosses of DD.
Boss Strategies:
  • Alchemist Braxtepel-lvl 22 demihuman (goblin)
    • Is protected from all damage by a chemical Ward. You need to kill two adds, Mursh and Squersh, while the Alchemist throws fireballs at random people. He also throws a spell you need to watch out for called Bombard. In Phase 2, when the Ward goes down after the adds die, the Alchemist will attack like any melee mob. The tank needs to turn him away from the group and avoid 'Flame Cleave' a spell with frontal AoE dmg. He also casts a random spell called 'Hot Tar' that puts a heavy damage random DoT on party members that should be dispelled quickly if possible. Fairly easy to down if you're paying attention.
  • Michael Bringhurst-lvl 23 demihuman (werewolf) *can be skinned!*
    • A man who was cursed with lycanthropy. Starts in the middle of the Moonbeam in the room. Keep him out of the light. He grows increasingly stronger the longer he's in the light and will eventually 1-shot the tank (12 or 13 stacks I think). After about a minute of dpsing him, or at half percent, he will fear everyone and run into the moonlight. You may be able to use your "Break Free' ability to get out of it, but I'm not sure, haven't tested it yet. The tank needs to pick up the boss immediately to get him out of the moonlight again. The tank will need to actually run up to him and melee attack him to get him to leave the moonlight. Ranged attacks will do nothing to pull him out.
  • Tegenar Deepfang-lvl 23 beast (spider)
    • This is the hardest fight of this dungeon, mostly because no one pays attention to mechanics. It's best to keep Ten facing away from the raid, and focused on the tank. Everyone else should stack on his butt except the healer, who can stand by a rock to quickly LoS his web attack to avoid being webbed. Ten has a frontal AoE attack called 'Poisonous Spray' that can be avoided by staying behind him. It puts a debuff on the tank that needs to be dispelled. He will cast 'Cocoon' on a random target who isn't the tank, which is why it's handy to have the healer hide by a spike of rock. Attack the cocoon to break your party member out of it. At 50% health, he will summon a pack of spiderlings who will make your life hell by chasing around whoever has the most threat on the tank (aka, the healer). So help protect the healer by killing the spiders. At this point, you also need to quickly dps Ten down, because he will just keep spawning waves of spiders until dead. This is a heal heavy fight, and requires tight co-ordination in the more difficult modes.
  • Glubmuk-lvl 23 elemental (Water)
    • Strategy unknown. Haven't encountered him yet. I know he spawns adds that you need to get rid of before they overwhelm you. That's it so far.
  • Council Gedlo-lvl 23 demihumans (all goblins)
    • Killing one of these bosses will cause the other 2 to gain special abilities. Killing 2 of them will cause the remaining one boss to gain 2 more additional abilities. It's generally easiest to kill the Shaman (healer) first, followed by the Incinerator (Mage) and Warlord (Warrior). The Shaman will spam heal himself and the other two until killed, as well as cast an absorb shield. The Incinerator will cast fireballs and 'Arc of Flames' AoE ability. Keep away from the flames on the ground. The Warlord is a standard melee attacker. Avoid his frontal AoE attack 'Mighty Cleave'.
  • Scarn-lvl 52 dragonkin (Fire drake)
    • Strategy relatively unknown. Haven't encountered him yet. He has a frontal AoE called 'Double Lash' that should be avoided. Is a standard melee creature. Also has another ability to watch out for called 'Flaming Breath'. Flies into the air at 50% and he will throw down circles of flames you need to avoid.
  •  "Darkening Deeps", "Expert Darkening Deeps", and "Master Darkening Deeps"
    • Defeat all the bosses of DD in their respective difficulties.
  • "Rapid Assault: Darkening Deeps"
    • Defeat all bosses in expert or higher within 30 minutes of initiating first combat.
  • "Fire Dodger"
    • Reach the bottom of Nightrock Commons without dying or being hit by Ragefire and with all Wildmages still alive and active on expert or higher.
  • "Squashing Squersh and Meursh"
    • Defeat Alchemist Braxtepel after killing his 2 minions within 10 seconds of each other in expert or higher difficulty.
  • "Raging Fire"
    • Defeat Alchemist Braxtepel after Mursh and Squersh simultaneously have 10+ stacks of "Ragefire" in expert or higher.
  • "Stop the Madness"
    • Defeat Michael while he has 20+ stacks of Lunar Madness active in expert or higher.
  • "Soothing the Beast"
    • Defeat Michael while he has no more than 10 stacks of Lunar Madness active on expert or higher.
  • "All Wrapped Up"
    • Defeat Tenegar Deepfang after 5 players have been Cocooned in expert or higher.
  • "Cocoon Crush"
    • Defeat Deepfang without anyone being Cocooned for more than 10 seconds in expert or higher difficulty.
  • "Melted Sludge"
    • Kill Glubmuk after killing 5 Fetid Spawns.
  • "Gedlo Gone"
    • On 3 separate attempts on expert or higher, leave a different boss as the last one alive.
  • "Fire Dancer"
    • Defeat Scarn without dying OR taking any damage from 'Smouldering'.
  • "Pressure Cooker"
    • Defeat Scarn after the Heat index has reached 12+ stacks.
  • "Empathy"
    • Defeat Emissary Villicar after 5+ players have been given 'Entwined Pain'.
  • "Conqueror: Darkening Deeps"
    • Complete all DD achievements except Master mode and Empathy.
    • Title reward: "Goblin Bane"

References: The description for this dungeon is a summary of the story of DD as written by Trion on their old website when they had all the lore and info pages still. I've broken it down into my own words and rewritten here, but it still belongs to them and them only! All information is as accurate as I can get about the dungeon, but it's also from my own encounter with the dungeon, so there is some things missing. When I can enter Expert and Master mode, I will fill in the missing stats. All achievements are accurate as of 2016, as well as their requirements and rewards. Boss strategy is written with my own experiences in mind except for the higher difficulty bosses, who I've never encountered and instead have asked guild members about! Thank you, and this is Trion's work, not mine! :)


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

[Raeslyn's Story] Side Story II: Down Where It's Dark and Deep

     In between my many tasks that I was running around doing in Gloamwood, Marshal Oakheart managed to squeeze in yet another perilous mission for me. Apparently this one was sanctioned by Cyril as well, so I was sort of press ganged into it, if you will. Note here, I did not go willingly! It's bad enough having to clear out the dark curses on Gloamwood, but to be sent down into some dark underbelly into the very heart of one of the largest goblin cities in these parts seemed foolhardy at best. Thank the divine, I wasn't going alone. They were sending a small party of the 8th Sanctuary Guard that was stationed with Oakheart at Gloamwood Pines. I'm not sure if I should feel insulted that they doubted my Ascended prowess that much, or relieved that I'd have allies to haul my ass out of danger if I ended up with more then I could handle. I was a rogue of rather significant skill, if I didn't say so myself, but I knew my limits.

     "Goblins tend to attack those that wander too near the Darkening Deeps, Raeslyn. Ambushes so close to our home and of this magnitude foreshadow an ominous tomorrow. I need you to lead a campaign against the goblin hoard before they engulf this forest in flames." Said Marshal Oakheart, looking very seriously down at me. Seriously, for a human he was crazy tall. I found myself idly wondering if I could take him in combat as he went on about how serious the goblin threat was to Glaomwood and Silverwood and how it was our duty as Guardians to protect the land and its citizens from threat. Yeah, yeah. It's not as if I haven't been told this before by like.....every Guardian officer I'd ever encountered. Ever. I sighed loudly, then cringed. Oops, that was kind of too much of a hint. I blinked sweetly and gave the Marshal an innocent smile to prove that I was a good lil Ascended paying proper attention to his speech. He huffed, not impressed, and continued.

    "Spiders may be the least of our concerns, Raeslyn. Sherriff Cosmin has reported that one of her Waykeepers spotted a distress flare from her outpost near the Deeps. This can't be good. She would appreciate it if you could check out what's going on there as well."

    "Yessir!" I said, trying very hard not to make it seem sarcastic or sharp. The marshal gave me another sharp glance. Likely he thought I was just some sassy kid that was given way too much power and whatever were the gods thinking bestowing such a powerful and majestic gift onto some lowly rogue like me. I shook my head, grinning, as I swaggered over to introduce myself to my three companions for the journey. Oh wait, make that four. A scrawny, pimply faced young man with a silly military haircut veritably ran into our group, looking flustered. "Sorry sirs, ma'am! I't left yet right? I tried to get here as fast as I could!" He was still stuffing his tunic into his breeches and trying to strap on vambraces at the same time. I folded my arms under my breasts and struck a nonchalant pose. The young man-boy really-flushed even deeper and ducked his head. An older, gruff looking man ruffled his hair fondly.

    "Greetings, Ascended." He said to me. "Sorry about this one here, he means well." He grinned at the red faced kid, then stuck his large, rough hand out for me to shake. I paused just long enough to seem disrespectful before shaking it reluctantly. "My name's Denard, this here's Hobbs and Rotherdan. He pointed to the kid and a willowy looking elf in turn. Then he grabbed a female dwarf in a bear hug and laughed. "And here's our lovely little cleric, to keep us from an early grave. Erinall. Dear, say hi." The dwarf muttered an arcane word and golden light surrounded her in a nimbus of shining magic. Denard gave an unmanly yelp and promptly dropped her. She rolled to the side, straightened up, and gave him a dark scowl, which he shrugged off. Obviously they worked with each other often for that kind of comradeship. I just hope this didn't go south. I'd hate to break up the family. And yes, I was mostly sincere about that! Will wonders never cease?

    "Well, you may or may not have heard of me yet, but I'm Raeslyn Windrose, your glorified Ascended pet!" I smirked and twirled my flame-touched daggers for effect. "You point, I kill. How's that sound?" I finished, and quirked a long eyebrow challengingly. Denard blinked, looking a little taken aback at my abrupt words, then he grinned and winked. "Sure thing love, sounds good! Just let us get outfitted in some proper spelunking gear and rustle up some grub, and we'll head for the Deeps pronto!" I found myself nodding. I rather found his way of talking refreshing. To the point, friendly, and straightforward. The others, taking cues from his words, immediately disbanded for whatever duties they were assigned to, and I settled myself on some nearby crate to hone my daggers and repair some tears in my leathers from my last encounter with "the enemy". As I worked on my mindless tasks, I listened in to the conversation going on around me with idly curiosity. Sometimes, you can pick up some pretty accurate information about a situation just by listening in to what the regular soldiers gossiped about when the officers weren't around.

     "Hey, did you hear about the trouble that Sanctum is having with the 12th guard lately?" One man in blue Guardian regalia exclaimed to his partner. They were standing idly by the Porticum that led out of Gloamwood Pines. I was quite pleased there was a Porticum here. That meant when I was finally done with this horrid business in this horridly depressing forest, I could just teleport myself back to heavenly Sanctum. I strained my keen elven hearing to hear more about this 12th guard. I think I'd vaguely heard something about them while I was in the capitol. Who was in command of that squadron.....what was his name again?

    "Marshal Kain sir!" Exclaimed the same man, stuttering in shock. Oh yeah, that's what his name was! Hey wait a sec....I wheeled around as a tall man in ceremonial armor strode through the fading magic of the Porticum where it had deposited him on the platform. He had a rather handsome, but stern face, the kind I suppose that young women would swoon over. Now I remember. There were plenty of things to say about Marshal Frederic Kain among the Sanctuary guards and the Guardians. He was pretty much a legendary figure alongside Cyril Kalmer during the civil war. His skill in battle and tactical intelligence was unmatched, or so it was told. Now literally burning with curiosity, I abandoned all pretense of minding my own business and stared openly as Marshal Kain strode right up to Marshal Oakheart as if he owned the place. Oakheart saw him coming and stiffened, his face taking on an irritated, frustrated expression that soldiers everywhere wore when they had to deal with unpleasant officers. This ought to be interesting, I thought amusedly.

     "So, what the soldiers are saying is true. You've moved the 8th Guard out of the town limits at the request of its people. Would you have the walls of Sanctum fall to ruin and be claimed by Regulos himself if this miserable peasantry asked it of you?!" Marshal Kain barked, taking an aggressive stance. I gasped, along with all the nearby soldiers. Some tensed, hands over their weapons and I wondered if an altercation was coming. We're hardly a threat to the Blood Storm if we're fighting amongst ourselves.

     Marshal Oakheart drew himself up, squaring his shoulders. He stood taller then Kain and was broader as well, and he used this to his advantage. Kain scowled darkly and stepped back grudgingly as his fellow officer bristled at him. "Marshal Frederic Kain-might I remind you that it is I who leads the 8th Sanctuary Guard, and not you? What you do with the 12th Guard soldiers under your command is your business, but you have no sway over me and mine."
    'Oh boy.' I thought, rather shocked. Marshal Oakheart has balls! Not many stood up to Kain and his temper, which was just as legendary as his actions. My eyes swung back and forth between the two men as they attacked each other with words. Finally, Kain gave a loud snort of disgust and departed a final warning. "So be it, Oakheart. Just you remember you said that when we cross paths again lest you end up between me and my destiny." He spun about and stomped back toward the Porticum, giving a particularly threatening glare at the woman stationed to run it. "Open the portal, I'm coming through!" He barked imperiously.

     Destiny? What on Telara did he mean by that, I wonder? It sounded rather...ominous. I made a mental note to keep an eye on the rumors and gossip around Kain. After all, he wouldn't be the first person to go down the wrong path while striving to bring victory to the light. I was brought out of my musings by the return of my party members, who were all staring curiously at the Porticum where Kain had just disappeared in a swirl of Air magic. I shrugged at their enquiring gazes. "Alright, we ready to kick some goblin butt?!" I shouted, holstering my daggers and putting my things back in their pouches. I also swiped up a few of the detonation charges that I had leftover from the brief time when my mind had been taken over by that Bhami woman who liked blowing things up. It was fascinating and all, but seemed a little too risky for long term use. Sorry lady, I added mentally as I scrambled off my crate and paced behind the guards.

     We made surprisingly good time leaving the Pines. The citizens of the town stared at us openly as we left, somewhat less hostile then the first time I entered. I only
 had a vague notion of where this "Darkening Deeps" was located, so willingly followed Denard as he led us to the opening. The exact entrance to the vast underground city was located at the bottom of a ravine that happened to be crawling with those filthy goblins. We carved a bloody path to the bottom, making short work of the vicious creatures with my mastery of the shadows and daggers and the soldiers' onslaught of swords and spells. Even the dwarf woman put up a good fight, hurling holy magic into their midst with furious determination, as if each goblin had personally offended her. Maybe they had. Healers took every death personally, as far as I knew, even those that happened elsewhere that they had no way of preventing. But then, healers always had the most stressful job, as far as I saw. Which is another reason why I preferred learning the art of assassination, shadow attacks, and stealth. Less worrying about your comrades that way since my fighting style relied on discrete, solo attacks.

    "Okay, once inside, stick together. Our goal is to discover what secrets the goblin alchemists have cooking up down there, as well as see if we can free our fellow comrades that were captured several days ago. Kill as many goblin leaders as we can, and for the Vigil's sake, don't get distracted and go haring off on your own. From what we've discovered, the Deeps are vast, and there is more down there then just the goblins to worry about." Denard gave us each a hard look, as if daring us to defy him. We all nodded obediently, even me. The last thing I want to do was end up dead at the bottom of a goblin city deep underground surrounded by those filthy things. I can just imagine what kind of horrors they would subject me to if they managed to catch me while I was vulnerable between life and death. I shuddered.

    "Remember, the main mission to figure out what the little beasts are up to. The Gedlo Priests worship Maelforge, the dragon of fire. They've grown increasingly powerful and we need to know why. Marshal Oakheart has sent plenty of soldiers into the Deeps to infiltrate their city, but none have returned yet. That is our second mission. We need to discover what's going on down there. Find the missing squad of crusaders as well as the source of the Gedlo Conclave's new power! Move out." He made a circling motion with his finger, the signal to move, and headed into the shadowy cave entrance that led to the goblin city. I felt a shiver of forboding wriggle down my spine as I passed the threshold. Very bad things were in the works in this city, I knew it. Call it a sixth sense gifted by the gods, or the instincts of a rogue, but this wasn't going to be some easy in and out mission. My throat suddenly felt dry. Inside the cave, the heat suddenly intensified a thousandfold, as if a giant furnace was being stoked down here. The walls loomed up on either side, dark and glistening with warm damp. I hated it already. I severely hated it, and I hated the fact that I felt forced once again to do something foolhardy and likely suicidal simply because there happened to be no one else suited for the job nearby. I cursed quietly to myself as I followed the short curly head of the healer just ahead of me. As one of the strongest members of our little party, I had been elected to take the rear guard, while Denard led.

     After about ten minutes of silent, cautious walking, the group suddenly stopped moving and I danced aside to avoid bowling over the dwarf. Sighing in irritation, I made my way to the front of the group. "What's wrong?" I hissed quietly, then I saw. The cave tunnel suddenly ended. I can't even describe what was in front of me. It was like....a giant underground city. I know that's what everyone was calling it, but somehow I wasn't expecting this. And it seemed for the most part natural. Except for the carved spiral steps that led downward into red shadows. The entire cave just opened up into a grand room. It was literally huge. I couldn't see the far wall across the way. Massive jagged spikes of dripping rock extended down from the ceiling, about half a mile above our heads, and hundreds of little glowing rocks twinkled from the city walls, natural lighting for the denizens. Well that explained their sensitivity to good old wholesome sunlight. If I ended up having nightmares of this place, I was totally blaming the Guardians as a whole.

    "Which way do we go?" I finally whispered when I'd gotten over my awe. Denard too was gazing around in a mix of awe and dismay. He shook his head in a dazed fashion before finally focusing on me and nodding firmly. With a more focused gaze, he assessed the gigantic cavern, looking for any hints of which way to go. Suddenly, he gasped and went white. I frowned and glanced in the direction he was looking, and felt my eyes glued to the horrific scene. Oh my gods.....

    There was a man tied to a tall statue of a red dragon in mid flight. The man was stripped naked except for his boots, which were standard issue Sanctuary Guard. Oh no. He was bleeding from a dozen places, and blood dripped from his mouth, but he was still awake and glaring defiantly at a large, heavily muscled goblin who was busily working at a crude stone altar nearby. Every so often, the goblin would glance at his captive and grin wickedly. Denard made an involuntary move forward, a sound of distress escaping his pale lips, and I quickly jerked him back, having to concentrate on putting some of my Ascended strength to prevent him from dragging me into the opening as well.

    "Wake up you fool!" I growled at him sharply, yanking him back with enough force to send us both stumbling. "That poor man is nothing more than a sacrifice to them. He's as good as dead already, look at him. If we go charging in there, we'll only end up in a similar situation. We can't afford to act emotionally." Denard turned and gave me an incredulous look, before he calmed and his shoulders slumped, mail clanking as he rested back on his heels, looking anguished. I fervently hoped he didn't know that poor sap personally.

    "What's going on?" Demanded the young kid...Hobbins? Hobbs? I don't remember what his name was. Denard turned, still looking shockingly pale, and scrubbed a hand across his face. "We're....we need to figure out a way to avoid the guards and get down below." He said, putting steel behind his words. He visibly straightened himself out, turning into a proper leader, and I felt relieved. "Rescue any men who aren't....who are still able to be rescued." He continued past a painful gulp, and I put a comforting hand on his arm. Now was not the time to be a jerk, I admonished myself. The others nodded in agreement, and Denard looked at me. "Raeslyn, you are our only rogue and the only one adept at moving unseen. Can you find us a way down to the floor of this ghastly place safely?" Finally, something worthy of my skill and time. I nodded firmly, pushing any doubts to the back of my mind to no doubt be picked at by the spirits that shared a metaphysical space with me. Thank goodness they were more of an energy then actual sentient entities otherwise I might go insane over even the idea of multiple beings crammed into my noggin.

     I stealthily snuck out of the shelter of the tunnel's shadows and crept along the cavern wall, keeping all my senses sharp and alert. I took my time, not wanting to make a foolish mistake that would cost us later. It did take some time and effort, but I finally found a far stairwell that appeared to not be as guarded or well used that seemed to lead all the way to the bottom floor. I didn't venture all the way down because I'd already spent a considerable time creeping through the shadows of the cavern and didn't want to be gone too long. As much as I trusted the men to guard my back and get us through this mission, I didn't trust their instinct to aid those in trouble to get them all killed or worse. And yes, not being killed immediately down here definitely counts as worse.

     When I met back up with my erstwhile companions, they were indeed eager to dash out and rescue all the poor unfortunate sou
ls trapped in this hellhole. I explained the route I'd chosen and Denard eagerly dashed ahead, happy to be doing something other then watch his poor fellow soldier be tortured slowly to death. I can't say I blame him.

     We reached the cavern floor without mishap thank the Vigil, and that's when our luck turned sour. A crazed goblin packing explosives who so kindly introduced himself as "Alchemist Braxtepel" or something like that, suddenly pounced on our group, attacking us at will and sic'ing his minions on us. Goblins crawled out of the woodwork to hurl themselves on our various shields, bows, spells and daggers. It was all we could do to keep them from doing serious harm, which wasn't helping us to kill that crazy alchemist guy, who kept bombarding us with heavy flaming projectiles amid fireballs and other crazy spells. I hate magic users. Finally, Denard broke free of the melee and engaged the mad alchemist in close combat. He was able to deal hefty blows, slicing right into the alchemist so severely that he was nearly cut in half on the first blow. Unfortunately, the goblin managed to get off some kind of cleave of his own, sending Denard sprawling on his side with a cry of pain. Immediately, the dwarf was at his side, murmuring quiet words of comfort amid a barrage of soothing healing spells that spilled over his form like water. After the first heart stopping moments in which I feared Denard was dead, I focused back on the goblin, who was still managing to wreak havoc with his spells even as he was obviously dying. Blood poured out of a massive stomach wound, even as I flung myself to the side to avoid a flaming ball of death to the face. The heat from the flames seared a few strands of my long hair, and even later, it refused to grow back. Whatever magic these goblins were meddling with, it was powerful stuff.

     When the fighting finally settled, the goblin alchemist...whatever the hell his name was...was lying dead in a large puddle of black blood, and Denard was also lying in a puddle of blood, but awake and mumbling about being fine, so the healer must have done her work. After she'd assured herself that Denard would live to see more of this oh so fascinating city, she went about the group, sending soothing mists of healing magic over the others. Cuts and bruises slowly disappeared, leaving phantom twinges and in a few cases, scars. She approached me to heal the burn along my cheek from a fireball gone astray as well as some slices along my ribcage, but I hastily danced out of reach.

    "No thanks, I'm good." I told her firmly. I didn't want magic near me if I could help it, even if it was beneficial. We took a short break to rest up, drink and eat, and discuss what to do next, but we knew that we had to hurry and finish our mission if we wanted any chance of successfully making it out of here alive. The longer we were in the city, the more goblins became aware of our presence, and the more I vividly pictured my lovely young body strapped naked to an altar to Maelforge. So not how I wanted my afternoon to go. Again, Denard sent me on ahead to scout. Mostly because I was getting antsy and I was the least injured of the party. I stepped past the fallen body of the alchemist goblin, sneering at his crude workshop and strange barrels of black powder, and headed deeper into the heart of the Deeps. Strangely, the ground sloped further downward and became somewhat more crude and rough, as if this was an even older passage. Not comforting. I wonder how long these goblins have been down here, plotting and waiting for their fiery master to awaken. I have to hand it to them, that's some dedication. Up ahead, the passage became strangely lighter. Not lighter in a chamber full of torches kind of way, but in a weird, blindingly bright white light kind of way. The hackles on my neck stood on end as I reached what appeared to be an ancient wooden door, bolted on this side. I inspected the bolt, determined I could easily pick it if needed, and reported back to Denard.
"Looks like a prison or dungeon door, you say?" Denard asked after I relayed the results of my scouting. I nodded thoughtfully, and wondered if I should voice my misgivings about going through it. The strange, bright white light that seemed to glow even through the door didn't bode well. But if it was a prison room, maybe we'd find the rest of the poor missing soldiers, or even Gloamwood civilians that had been missing. Only one way to find out.

    "This is a bad idea." Stated the spell caster in our group. I have no idea what kind of spell school he studied in, not that I really cared. Magic was magic, in my books. All of it was unnatural. Lookit me, getting set in my ways. I chuckled to myself, earning a set of bewildered and somewhat concerned looks from my party members. I waved at them. "So, are we going forward then" I asked, merely to get this party moving forward. Denard nodded, not looking very happy himself. This smelled bad, whichever way you looked at it. But there wasn't really any other option. This seemed to be the only actual way to go past the cavern, and we still needed to figure out what the Gedlo were up to down here. I moved to the front of the group and set to work on the door lock. Within moments, it sprang free, and I moved out of the way for Denard to open the heavy door. It creaked open with protest, and we all peered in like there was a rabid bear inside waiting to claw our faces off....which in hindsight wasn't far off the mark...

    Inside was a rather rough circular chamber. The source of the blinding white light was not really apparent, but originated in a spot in the center, where a small circle of pure concentrated white light lit up the stone floor. It was so white and pure...almost like moonlight. In fact, it almost seemed like if you listened hard enough, you could hear it singing. It was calling to me to come, bathe in the light. I shook off the feeling and saw the others being similarily affected. Focusing past the beam of dazzling light, I saw half a dozen wooden cages lining the wall of the cavern. To my shock, they were full of people. There was even a dragonian in one of the cages! Those wily creatures were so cagey. I'd heard rumors of them working with the Guardians and Defiant to bring about the destruction of Maelforge, their overlord in the plane of fire, but who knows with them. Two men in Sanctuary armor were standing, peering through the wooden bars at us with round us, while a short woman was waving her arms and shouting something at the dragonian. A lone man in the clothing worn by the people of Gloamwood was quietly sitting in the middle of a cage closest to us. We all glanced at each other and split up to let out the prisoners. I heard Hobbs threatening the dragonkin creature to behave, while the dwarf woman let out the two guardsman, who thanked her and clapped her on the back like old comrades. That left me with the odd loner guy. He was acting really strange. When I came close, he stared me down as if assessing me as a threat. For a half starved, tortured man in a cage in the belly of an underground city, he didn't look too scared or happy to be free. I unlocked the cage, and he kind of stared blindly at me. No wait, he was staring past me, at the moonlight.

    "Uh, you can go now." I said, gesturing impatiently. The dragonian glanced over and gave a strangled cry. "No, get away! Awaaaaay!!" He wailed in fear and blindly ran back down the passage we'd come from. I turned and quirked an eyebrow at my comrades, who shrugged. Rotherdan made a crazy motion around his head and rolled his eyes.

    "Do you have a name?" I asked the silent man who was still standing in front of me like a slack-jawed idiot. He blinked and turned slowly to look at me. I felt my eyes widen as I took in his. He didn't have ordinary eyes. The pupils were sort of vertical, and seemed to expand as they took in light. Very odd. I'd heard about strange experiments the goblins were doing, but I didn't know they were performing them on people! Yet one more reason not to get trapped down here. "Uh guys," I said, backing away slowly from the strange man. They came closer, curious. The man finally spoke, with a low deep voice that almost seemed to growl. "My name is ah....oh yes. It's Michael Bringhurst. I'm from Gloamwood Pines. Thank you for rescuing me. I'll just get my things over there in the corner..." He trailed off as he pointed to where indeed a pile of things were seen. No doubt the clothing, weaponry, and various items the prisoners had on them when captured. I nodded, albeit reluctantly. There was something definitely "wrong" about this guy. I didn't like it, and I found myself clutching my daggers as we all watched him go for his things. Halfway across the room, he stopped, and seemed to turn to the beam of light like a flower seeking the sun. Then with stumbling steps, as if in a trance, he walked toward it. Oh gods, this can't be good. I made a sort of half motion to stop him, then decided against it. I didn't want to be nearby in case it went south.

     Denard sort of hovered to my left, and we all held our breath. The second the man entered the moonlight, he stiffened and gave a loud gasp that turned into a gurgling scream. I wonder if he was dying. And then, horrifyingly, he began changing. Into a beast. Dark brownish black fur sprouted along his back and arms. A shaggy tail sprouted like a weed, and his hands mutated into paws. He wailed and screamed and we heard popping and snapping of bones. It seemed to go on for hours, but in fact it had to be mere minutes. We all stood, horrified, not sure what to do. I don't even think we could have helped anyway. And those claws look wicked sharp. They were as long as my daggers. Finally, his scream cut off and he stood. He was now some sort of.....mad, two legged wolf creature. He gave an unearthly howl that echoed and rebounded off the walls and had me rubbing my sensitive ears. Well, if the goblins didn't know we were here before, they did now. Suddenly, Michael sniffed the air. Gods, he was tall. He towered over the tallest elf I'd ever seen. With a suddenness that took my breath away, he spun around and stared right at us. Somewhere behind me, I could hear the other prisoners give cries of fright that trailed off as they too made a beeline for the exit. The wolf thing followed their movement with his eyes, then fixated back on us, clearly knowing we were the bigger threat that would have to be dealt with first.

    "Is he even still aware of being....a person?" Someone whispered to my left in horrified tones. I winced. I dearly hoped not. Whatever sanity might have survived that horrible transformation was no doubt being overridden by the beast's instincts. It hunched over and gave a low, menacing growl. "Brace yourselves." Denard said, and brought his silver-edged shield to bear. Wait...silver. Something niggled at my mind. The description of this beast matched something I'd once heard a long time ago, about some kind of feral half beast half man creature that was subject to the power of the moon and was deathly allergic to silver. A werewolf, wasn't it? I said as much to Denard, who eyed his shield with new light. We sort of hatched out a quick plan, and put it in motion as the beast rushed us. As it left the moonlight, it seemed to shrink somewhat and even stumbled, tripping over its large paws. I wonder if the moonlight lent it strength it wouldn't normally have, and shouted that to Denard so he would keep it out of the light. We all spread out and sort of danced away from the manic creature, which was so maddened that it didn't even have a strategy of any kind. It just sort of flung itself at whoever made the most noise, or happened to gain its attention the most. It ping-ponged between us, and so that way we avoided any major damage, until Denard was able to stun it with a shield slam to the face. It fell back, just shy of the moonlight, and we all fell on it with our weapons before it could recover. It may have been Michael Bringhurst at one point, but it was him no longer.

    When the deed was done and the beast had been slain, we all stood panting, and watched in horrified silence as the magic of the transformation melted away, revealing the poor, malnourished prisoner, bloody and dead, eyes wide in panic and agony. I felt slightly sick and turned away. Whatever magic was happening here, whatever horrid experiments the goblins were doing, it had to stop so that nothing like that could happen again. If an army of those things were bred, we'd be in serious trouble.

   The healer whispered a few words of mourning and passage to the Soulstream over the body, and we moved on, deeper into the bowels of the Deeps. We had to fight past a tunnel that was crawling with spiders. The webbed menaces had set quite the trap across the way, forcing us to waste precious hours cutting through the thick, tensile webbing and being assaulted by chittering arachnids at every turn.

    Eventually we came out into a positively ancient sewer system, which I assume must have been connected to the ruins of an old castle that overlooked the Deeps itself. The sewers stank of old death and rotting things in the dark, and strange glowing spirits prowled through the filthy water. We edged cautiously past the water elementals, who appeared maddened by the evil taint of the place, and found yet another closed and barred door. This one was newer made, and was hot to the touch. Metal bands on it were glowing with red heat. I couldn't get my hands on it to pick the lock due to the hot metal, but thankfully, it opened easily enough. Inside, we finally found what we were looking for. Three tall, robed Gedlo priests stood huddled around an altar engraved with dozens of motifs glorifying their god, Maelforge. They intoned ritual words in a strange, guttural language, and all stopped and turned as one when we entered.
     "Haha! You are too late, fools! You cannot stop the might of Maelforge. Soon he will overtake this world and all will burn in eternal flame!!" They cackled insanely, seeming to hover protectively about something that lay on the altar. I knew instinctively that the answer to our goblin problem lay there. We just needed to get past these three Geldo Priests. Without words, we attacked. What could we say that would have any meaning anyway? They were fanatical creatures born of fire, and would always serve Maelforge to the point of death. Best to slay them and try to figure out what damage they've done. My daggers were a blur of motion as I sliced and hacked and stabbed. Blow after blow, I lost myself to the rhythm of my attacks, like a whirlwind of death. I came to myself sometime later, with the council members dead at our feet. It was a joint effort to bring them down, but all three goblins sported grevious wounds from my daggers and many leaked the strange poisons I'd coated my blades with. The others were giving me reverent and awe-filled looks, as if seeing the Vigil incarnate, and I glared until they looked away. They went about their usual business of binding wounds, inspecting the bodies for information, and perhaps taking some trinkets and weapons that would be of use. I went straight for their obscene altar.

    To my utter horror, I found egg shells. Not just any egg shells, but those belonging to a dragon of fire. I've an inkling of what that meant, but I didn't even want to think about the implications of there being a fire dragon hatchling here, of all places. Of what this could mean for all Telara if it was allowed to live and grow. I clutched the shells and stowed them away in my pack before anyone else could see. Best that no one else saw what I suspected until I could inform Marshal Oakheart of my findings.

     The way back out of that hellhole of a city was a blur for me. I was lost in musings of what this could all mean. The experiments, the alchemy, the strange transformation of that man into a beast, the egg shells...dire things indeed were coming to Telara. As much as I wish I could just bury my head in the sand in Silverwood, I had a duty that I felt compelled to uphold. To my goddess, to Telara, and to those who called it home. These were dark times indeed.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

[Professions] I: Fishing

   Seeing as how my last story entry mentioned fishing and how much joy that Kara found in the profession, I thought I'd give an in-depth guide to fishing in Rift! So this post will be about the fishing profession in Rift and how to level it and gain recipes.

     Fishing, along with the Survival profession, is gained automatically and doesn't need to be trained to learn at first. Anyone can fish in Rift. In order to level up your fishing, however, you need to find a fishing trainer, which are easily spotted by just looking for the fish icon which means that the fish exchange vendor is nearby.

     In order to fish, you need a fishing pole. You can place the fishing pole icon on your ability action bar wherever is most convenient or easy to use. For myself, I use the arrow keys on my main action bar to change the page to "2" and then place the fish pole icon on one of the numbers. This makes it easier if your planning on doing fishing for more then just a few minutes. All you need to do then is hit the number key associated with the fishing pole icon and the little fish symbol will show up. There are four different fish symbols that will appear instead of your cursor when your fishing. The red circle means that you are over land, or too far away from your target or the water. The yellow circle means your fishing in deep water. The blue circle means shallow water, and the green circle means a special or rare type of fish. For instance, a pool of a specific type of fish, or a world event fishing area. These little designated areas can be easily spotted on your mini map by activating your "find fish" buff, which everyone gets when they get fishing. You can find these abilities in your spell book, by hitting "p". Cast your line in the water by hovering your converted mouse curser over the area you want to fish in and left clicking. After a few moments, if you have the in game volume on you'll hear a little splash, and a sound like a reel spinning. Your mouse cursor will then change to a leaping fish when moved over your line. Right click right away to avoid your fish escaping. Be careful not to double click either, as that can also make the fish get away. Sometimes it's hard to tell when you snagged a fish if your sitting in a mass of other players for say, the Summerfest event, or for a rare fish spawn. It can get confusing if you hear splashes of other fishing lines. Watch for your cursor icon to change to a leaping fish. If you are looking for a specific type of fish, sometimes they can be found more easily in a certain location. Keep an eye out on where you find that type of fish for later!
     There are quests you can complete in Silverwood and Freemarch to help you learn the process of fishing and what each color circle means. They also give you a fishing pole through this small quest chain. It nets you some exp, and you end up with some fish you can craft recipes with in the Survival profession. Sometimes when casting your fishing line in the water, the fish will tug on your line more than once. Just wait for the fish icon to show up again and re-click. The higher quality the fish, the more tugs you have to complete. Doing this repeatedly for any length of time can become boring and mind-numbing though, just going to warn you. It's best to level your fishing profession in small increments, and it's best to accomplish it as you level. That way, your fishing keeps up to each zone you are in. Don't forget to keep training up your fishing as you go, so you can you gain more levels. Sadly, patrons of Rift don't gain the ability to summon fish trainers, so you need to visit a town or your capital city in order to keep leveling your fishing skill. The higher the skill level of your fishing, the more it will cost to train, but don't worry, as you level, you'll easily be able to save up the gold and plat that is required to pay for training.
     As you venture into different zones, you'll notice that you find more fish variety and gain other unique things as well. As well as fish, you can catch artifacts, dimension items, grey items, boxes of items, or trophy fish. Don't throw away any of the fish you catch because there's always a use for them. Everything except the grey trash items can be re used for something else.
Fishing Levels:
  • Novice Angler-1 fishing skill. Automatically gained when creating a character
  • Skilled Angler-75 fishing skill. Trained. Costs 50 silver.
  • Expert Angler-150 fishing skill. Trained. Costs 2 gold, 50 silver
  • Master Angler-225 fishing skill. Trained. Costs 12 gold, 50 silver
  • Grandmaster Angler-300 fishing skill. Trained. Costs 11 plat, 80 gold
  • Savant Angler-375 fishing skill. Trained. Costs 30 plat. Requires speaking to a specific Savant trainer.
    • At each of these intervals make sure to make yourself a new fishing pole too!
Fishing Quests: (you don't have to do these, but they give you some nice rewards as you go, and give you your first lure, the snail.)
  • Tutorial Quests:
    • Fishing Lessons-awards old fishing pole
    • Shallow Water Fishing-awards beginner's fishing pole
    • Deep Water Fishing-awards speedy shark snack
    • Fishing With Lures
  • Quests found while lvling:
    • Near-Endless Fishing-awards Recipe: Widemouth Sashimi
  • Daily Fishing Quests: (All arranged by zone)
    • Freemarch-located at Kelari Refuge- awards Freemarch Warden's Rep or a box
    • Silverwood-located at Quicksilver College-awards Quicksilver Scholar's Rep or a box
    • Stonefield-located at Granite Falls-awards Granite Falls Rep or a box
    • Gloamwood-located at Gloamwood Pines-awards Gloamwood Waykeepers Rep or box
    • Scarlet Gorge-located at Crimson Wash for Guardian-located at Scarwood Lift Base for Defiant-awards Quarry Rats Rep or box
    • Scarwood Reach-located at Perspice (Defiant)-located at Kain's Command (Guardian)-awards Red Scar Trackers Rep (Defiant) or Iron Claw Trappers (Guardian) or box
    • Droughtlands-located at Lantern Hook-awards Arcane Hand Rep or box
    • Moonshade Highlands-located at Reclaimer's Hold-awards Runeguard Rep or box
    • Shimmersand-located at Fortune's Shore-awards Dragonslayer Covenant Rep or box
    • Iron Pine Peak-located at Chancel of Labors-awards Icewatch Rep or box
    • Stillmore-located at Zareph's Return-awards Order of Mathos Rep or box
    • Ember Isle-located at Fort Zarnost (Guardian)-located at Talos Landing (Defiant)-located at Ember Watch (both factions)-awards Farclan Rep (Guardian) and Kelari Expedition Rep (Defiant) and Keepers Rep (both factions) or box
    • Cape Jule-located at Tulan-awards Eternal City Survivors Rep or box
    • Pelladane- located at Tulido Retreat-awards Necropolis Caretakers Rep or box
    • Dendrome-located at (not sure yet)-awards Qaijiri Rep and a box
  • Fishing Derby Quests:
    • A new questline introduced in SL expansion but discontinued in future expansions, it allowed you to a special, fun, timed quest at Grandmaster Fishing level by talking to Stan in Tempest Bay. The goal was to fish 20 specific fish in 60 minutes in a specific zone. These special fish are only around for the Derby quest and not on any other time. It can be rewarding to complete these quests, but once you pass 375 fishing, this quest option disappears.
  • Nightmare Tide Quests:
    • Charburg District-located in Margle Palace-awards...I don't know yet
     And here is the big list of fish in Telara and where to find them.
  • Silverwood/Freemarch:
    • Shallow Water
      • Forest Pondleaper
      • Smooth Minnow
      • Silverwood Angel
      • Normal-Eyed Guppy
    • Deep Water
      • Blue Widemouth
      • False Shark
      • Silverwood Devil
      • Deep March Eel
  • Gloamwood/Stonefield:
    • Shallow Water
      • Lesser Crystalfish
      • Echidna Fish
      • Gloam Eel
      • Fentail
    • Deep Water
      • Creeper
      • Tawny Rockfish
      • Indigoby
      • Cascadefish
  • Scarlet Gorge/Scarwood Reach:
    • Shallow Water
      • Freshwater Shrimp
      • Chameleonfish
      • Grouper
      • Scarwood Crystalfish
      • Red Mangler
      • Steelscale Thrasher
    • Deep Water
      • Blenny
      • Flatfish
      • Green Widemouth
      • Electric Dragonfish
      • Toxophilicstar
      • Inland Octopus
      • Ironshell Crab
  • Iron Pine Peak:
    • Shallow Water
      • Striated Crab
      • Serene Flatfish
      • Icebiter
    • Deep Water
      • Verdant Angel
      • Coldwater Seabug
      • Glacier Octopus
  • Moonshade Highlands/Droughtlands
    • Shallow Water
      • Jasper Snapper
      • Moonhorse
      • Grassland Pondleaper
      • Pale Flycatcher
      • Burrowing Crab
      • Desert Greenling
    • Deep Water
      • Lobster
      • Highlands Eel
      • Whalefish
      • Vermillion Stoneskin
      • Aestilating Nautilus
      • Droughtlands Puffer
  • Shimmersand:
    • Shallow Water
      • Brown Perch
      • Coral Prawn
      • Brightwater Octopus
      • Powdernose Crab
    • Deep Water
      • Sunny Puffer
      • Teal Grouper
      • Desert Seabug
      • Sand Nautilus
  • Stillmore:
    • Shallow Water
      • Brown Perch
      • Firebelly Snapper
      • Moorleaper
    • Deep Water
      • Teal Leaper
      • Bull Chameleonfish
      • Stillmore Devil
  • Ember Isle:
    • Shallow Water:
      •  Brown Perch
      • Isle Crab
      • Ember Stoneskin
      • Amphibious Jelly
    • Deep Water
      • Glossy Mackeral
      • Teal Grouper
      • Deep Ray
      • Ash Shark
  • Brevane:
    • Shallow Water
      • Quick Minnow
      • Empyrean Dragonfish
      • Giant Pondleaper
      • Coldflare Octopus
      • Diving Ouzel (Only Ashora and Dendrome)
    • Deep Water
      • Mottled Flatfish
      • Sharpfin
      • Kraken Hatchling
      • Silt Eel (Only Ashora and Dendrome)
  • Dusken:
    • Shallow Water
      • Quickminnow
      • Emerald Flycatcher
      • Sunhorse
      • Bulkhead Shrimp (Only Steppes of Infinity)
    • Deep Water
      • Banded Puffer
      • Mottled Flatfish
      • Veiled Octopus
      • Dusken Eel
      • Longspine Urchin (Only Steppes of Infinity)
     There are also a fair number of achievements surrounding the fishing profession, but they are quite easy to obtain without any real effort. Just by fishing as you level, you'll gain most of those achievements. Any that you don't get as you go through the zones, you can easily go back and specifically hunt for. A lot of achievements center around catching one of each fish in each of the zones, so it would  be beneficial to spend some time fishing in your down time in each zone! For me that's easy, because I love exploring and doing everything. A good thing to do is, every time you see a new body of water, no matter how big or small, drop a line a few times. You never know what you'll get.

Here are several links to guides that I used to create this page! Many thanks go to their dedication and hard work in creating these guides to make it possible for us nerds to enjoy these aspects of the game! :)

Rift Wiki: Fishing Guide
Basic Fishing Tips
Out of Date Rift Fishing Wiki

References: Most of the information gained for this post was made possible by the 3 above links! Also, by reading a lot in the forums, and of course, by hands on note taking in Rift itself. A lot of the high lvl end game data is missing or incomplete because as I write this, I'm still low lvl myself and haven't gotten very far. Where I am in the Rp chapters of my character's stories is where I am actually in the game! Thank you for reading this, and info belongs to Rift and the lovely people who created it! Guides belong to their respective owners, in the links!