Tinte's Adventures in the Crystal Desert
Once one menace to Tyria found its demise another one arose. Having dealt with Mordremoth, I now had to deal with Balthazar. What was I thinking? He claimed to be a god, one of the six that humans worshipped. I never got into worshipping a god, being an Asuran, but I still had beliefs in things greater than ourselves, greater than all the races. Thinking of what defeating a god could mean made my head spin. If Balthazar could go down, then was he a god at all or just some super force doomed to meet his match? If defeated, what about the other gods of the humans? Yup, I found not believing in gods like the humans far easier even if it all led to questions better off for a philosopher rather than my analytical self.
Regardless, Balthazar’s actions could rip Tyria apart. I had to get to the Crystal Desert and fast! Thankfully I could convince Captain Kiel to give me an airship ride from Lion’s Arch. I went alone, making the whole crew wonder how on Tyria I would defeat a god.
The landing came at an unexpected point in order to help save a mine and village. I did not expect to find minions of Balthazar. We took them in groups, but wound up having the whole bunch coming at us. I pulled off smaller groups to blast with various fire and lightning effects using my new Weaver abilities. It proved quite satisfying.
The Herald of Balthazar showed up. He had some powers one had to watch, but he ran off before we could do much. I chased him through the mine, managing to get some hits on him here and there until we came to the village.
At the village, he pulled out more minions while he went about setting fires to raze the place. Things got sketchy in the fight and I have to admit to going down more than once trying to deal with the number of minions and the random attacks of the Herald on me in the midst of his fire starting.
Then the Herald ran off again. What was it with the evil ones? Thinking they can save themselves and have minions kill me off. I’ve proven I don’t die easily and so far I’ve gotten up more times than I went down. Two rather large forged minions reminding me of dogs appeared. I spent half my time dodging the tag teaming minions while managing to lay down some of my own destruction upon them.
By the time, they were dispatched I was tired. No time to stop now. The village stood in flames with many downed villagers. I acquired an amazing fire extinguisher from one of the survivors and access to a raptor I could ride. I’ve only driven a reliable golem, so hopping on the back of a scaly beast felt daunting. Especially with how it could jump over large gaps between buildings or missing parts of bridges. However, without the mount, I would never have reached all the villagers and fires.
My reward for helping included the raptor mount I had borrowed. It did not take long to find it a boon to traveling the desert for the first time. This included some tail swiping of spiders to clear out another mine area in the direction the Herald had gone. I never saw the Herald again, but I made it safely to Amnoon.
In Amnoon, I met up with Rytlock, ready to kill a god, and Lady Kasmeer Meade, who wondered about what would become of worshipping the Six Gods. A reminder that I was glad to never worship a god that had the possibility of being destroyed by mortal efforts.
Talking to Captain Rahim, I was sent off to talk to three people: Deputy Qais, Chief Councilor Imann, and Deputy Agomb. I went to see Deputy Qais first, who sent me on to talk to Zalambur. It turned out Zalambur ran the casino and involved himself in other nefarious things.
One of those nefarious dealings involved Archon Iberu, a necromancer of great power. Bad business decision by far. Meeting the guy made my skin crawl and then he left the casino leaving behind awakened minions. I had enough of undead of any type in prior adventures and found anyone wanting such minions had only themselves in mind. Needless to say I had some fun cleaning the casino of those awakened. It also put me in the better graces of Zalambur, though I wonder about a man that would deal with such an evil man.
Next I dealt with bickering counselors with all different ideas of how Amnoon should handle the issues at hand. It gave me a worse headache than a debate of the proper way to construct a new machine. I managed to parse all the information to come down to three choices: Amnoon stayed independent without making allies, it allied with the Sunspears, or it accepted Joko’s offer.
Now this led me to an issue. Joko proved to be the leader of the awakened, so how did Archon Iberu fit in the equation. Maybe they were one and the same or the Archon was a minion of Joko. Either way I would never side with them. Amnoon would have no independence and probably wind up mindless awakened if they took the offer. The idea made me want to retch.
I told them to resist Joko, using the Sunspears for help. This meant Amnoon had to finally take sides and stop hiding behind its walls. Probably the better thing even if the change could cause more trouble before it got better.
Lastly, I talked to Deputy Agomb in the refugee camp. He suggested talking to the refugees to find out what happened as they ran from the hordes of Balthazar. Some reported the hordes were marching from the north which made sense from what little I’d seen of the lay of the land and the location of Amnoon. The more interesting tidbit got my attention. Vlast (aka Gleam) had saved some of those fleeing before the horde. What was Aurene’s brother doing here?
I had to go to a high point south of the refugee camp in order to get in contact with Taimi. She proved to be her usual talkative self full of ideas and complaints about tours interrupting her work. One of the things we agreed upon was that going after more dragons would only make things worse for Tyria. Taimi would try to convince people of this and that Balthazar needed to be dealt with.
Back in Amnoon I find I need to return to Zalambur. Once in the casino I found Canach, who wanted to join in the fight. The usual sarcastic camaraderie immediately flowed between Rytlock and Canach. At least some things were predictable. So I walked into Zalambur’s office with three friends this time.
Zalambur confirmed what I feared. Balthazar hunted the crystal dragon. It appeared he wanted to use its power one way or another. I could not let this god gain control of Vlast. Thankfully dragons could handle a lot more than I ever could, but we were talking of a god here, or at least a selfish immortal with too much power for his own good.
Our next step required checking out the most advanced camps of the Forged. Canach stated he wanted to scout the main camp, but Rytlock did not want to let him go alone. I guess he still felt the need to babysit the Sylvari after our last adventures. Of course he stated his excuse included the need for a fight because of his boring vacation. I let them have at it and would meet them near there after checking out the two subcamps, since Kasmeer wanted to get to the Temple of Kormir.
I had to sneak in and out of both camps to accomplish anything. Part of this occurred to get the lay of the camp and then determine the best route to complete the tasks required. In the northern camp I used explosives and my own magic to destroy cannons that could come too close to raining havoc down on the areas just outside the city walls. With some work they may have been able to hit Amnoon. The camp to the southeast of the city contained forged parts and intelligence worth having to understand the Forged.
After spending more time than I expected dealing with these camps alone, I met up with Rytlock and Canach outside the main camp further to the east of Amnoon. Being the sneaky types we were, we went in the main gate. Okay, Canach managed to open it quietly, but we charged in noting where scouts were stationed.
The place crawled with Forged and we managed to take out scouts that ran for the warning alarms to alert the rest of the camp. It took several skirmishes to clear our path up to yet another gate. Not far from this gate, we found a note to get at the dragons through Vlast. That did not bode well.
Canach managed to open the next gate. We entered the heart of the camp to realize we had four captains and more Forged than I liked to defeat. This fight proved more grueling than the outer part of the camp. I was glad for a repair canister with how I took a beating.
The captains fell, but then it got worse. A Forged Bastion with a good array of fire and other attacks appeared. As we fought to take him down, more Forged showed up. We had to pull off to clean up the minions and then rush in to damage the Bastion some more.
By the time, it finally fell my armor had taken a great deal more damage and I did not have another repair cannister. Sometimes I wondered about my choice of running into the thick of things as an elementalist with a staff. I got better at weaving my elements with all this fighting, but it needed work. A lot of work.
I thought I would get a rest once we went to the Temple of Kormir to meet up with Kasmeer. I made another ally there in Kito, part of the Order of Shadows. I had never heard of them, but he seemed a worthy fellow, especially since the Herald of Balthazar showed up to ruin the day.
I had to round up refugees and get them to a place safe from the Herald, The priestesses did not slack in joining the fight, which kept the Herald from attacking me. Unfortunately some refugees were killed while trying to get them to a safe area. It was frustrating to clear one area only to return and see the Herald running after more refugees in another. That fueled my anger.
The battle raged until I had to ditch my armor due to it taking too much damage. I did not care that I was running around nearly naked. This Herald would eat some elemental anger from me. Things felt promising when the Herald complained to Balthazar about how we were kicking his butt. Then the weasel escaped through a portal before we could finish him. We had gained a lot more intelligence on his skills and abilities. Next time he might die faster.
We all traveled to Makli Outpost where we found the nomads trying to flee from the destruction the Forged continued to rain down on the outpost and all over the salt flats. I did not have the heart to tell the leader of the evacuation that nowhere would be safe if we died. Considering the effort to get this far, it would not surprise me if someday soon I never got up again.
We knew Vlast was somewhere in the salt flats, but no one would open the gate to let us out. No problem, over the wall we jumped and it did not take long to find a Forged to beat on. It took longer but we scoured the area for all the Forged, saved some fallen nomads, and cleared out elite squads of the Forged by the skin of our teeth. My armor did not get ripped off this time.
A crystal shard gave us clues that Vlast indeed had been here. I’m glad I had the added help of Limia Rocksdale on this part of the mission to snipe things from farther than my spells could reach. It helped with some tricky spots of getting the attention of the Forged without all of them coming at us. Even so I found myself on the ground more than I liked. I’ve jokingly been called a glass cannon by friends. Keep me on my feet and I can rain stuff down, but unfortunately I can trip over my own feet at times.
We find the Herald again. He doesn’t seem as cocky this time and we defeat him. It did not even seem all that climactic despite him throwing all his usual tricks. We still had to find Vlast and would probably have our first face off with Balthazar himself. The Herald at this point proved to be a bump in the road.
Gods are no joke to fight. I have to admit I’m not sure it felt harder to fight than when I faced Mordremoth, but this time I had no idea if I could kill my opponent.
Vlast had chains about him magically created by Balthazar and the god takes a moment to call Rytlock friend. Then the god started slamming everyone. I know I blacked out for a moment with a huge knockback.
Vlast erupted from his chains and dove between me and Balthazar. I see the sword sink into the dragon and then this time a white out. The explosion makes my ears ring. Once my body overcomes the shock there is no sign of Balthazar and a crystal shard from Vlast remained. Inspecting it further I find a message to his sister because it is a memory crystal.
What I could surmise from the message: Balthazar wanted Vlast’s power that he carried within the prophet’s shadow and his sister had to unlock the power before Balthazar could. I had no idea what the prophet’s shadow meant but Kasmeer stated it meant Glint’s lair.
Then I had to face Rytlock. We spoke privately because I wanted to know how Balthazar thought Rytlock a friend. Rytlock reluctantly confessed that while in the mists, he finally found his sword, Sohothin. A man in chains was near by and helped free the sword and restore its fiery blade. For the help, Rytlock freed him. The man sent him home through a portal. Not until Balthazar called him friend did Rytlock realize who the man had been. Now he vowed to atone for letting Balthazar lose.
This made my head hurt. I had no issues with Rytlock helping a man that helped him. The theology this implied could unravel all sorts of things about the six. So a god can be chained with no way out at all. Did the other gods do it? If so, why? If not a god, then how could any of the six claim to be gods. It felt easier to dumb it down to immortals not wanting to share the power of ruling over humans. It appeared Balthazar wanted the ultimate title of god. Not that I would worship him, upstart that I found him to be, even if I doubted I could kill him.
Regardless of what this all meant, one thing I did know. I had to go scour the desert and get all of Vlast’s exploded fragments before Balthazar’s horde did. Rytlock, Kasmeer and Canach headed for Glint’s Lair. Canach gave one piece of final advice to figure out how the locals got around this part of the Crystal Desert. I had a feeling I needed a new mount.
I acquired the new springer mount and used my exploration of finding all of Vlast’s memory shards to help train it. I’m not sure how long I explored, but I found some interesting places. Some of them I will return to when my mounts have further training completed.
Vlast’s memory crystals, which I know I did not pick up in order, confirmed what I already knew and clarified the pieces that I had missing. For instance I already had hints of a weapon of massive power that Balthazar wanted to get his hands onto. It could lead to something unpredictable if he gets to it first. The weapon was made so mortals had a chance to fight cataclysmic events that could destroy all life. Vlast knew Balthazar sought the weapon for the wrong reason and that he and Aurene did not stand ready for this. So I had to find a way to beat Balthazar to the weapon knowing he already tossed us like rag dolls in our last encounter.
Vlast’s mother never let him destroy the weapon and he never shirked his responsibility: however, he felt trapped. Killing the jungle dragon had increased the power of his sire. Kralkatorrik still grows in power with the death of Vlast’s mother unavenged.
All of this plagued Vlast, and the fact he had never met his sister added to it. I’m sorry he was brutally slaughtered in order to save me so I might complete my mission by finding the weapon first. I’m not sure how Aurene will take this, but I know via Taimi that she became suddenly upset and is even snapping at her exalted. I’m not sure how I’ll face her when telling of her brother’s courageous death and steadfastness to his mission. I might just hand her the completed memory crystal and let her listen to his message. I have lost friends, but never family, leaving me wondering how Aurene must really feel knowing a brother she never met already caused a severed connection she strongly felt.
I made my way to the entrance of the area where Glint’s lair should be and used my springer mount to get over the gate. I landed amongst my comrades busting on each other and then razzing me for a late arrival.
Kasmeer and Rytlock have been to the lair before, but never via the path we were taking and I don’t think together. A little exploring led us into Forged that appeared settled here longer than a search party would. They were mining branded crystals. We found strange tracks of something large and heavy Canach had never seen before, and a cannon appeared powered by branded crystals which just added to the curiosity. Even parts of an enormous machine littered the area.
We found one of Glint’s memory crystals further into the area. The message showed that Glint wondered if the heroes had sufficient courage, and that the only way to win was to unite all the races. Tyria could not survive otherwise. The crystal also appeared to have reacted to Rytlock’s presence. He can feel Glint’s power in them.
We gathered several more. Glint gained compassion for the mortal races upon seeing that the world would be consumed. She had to figure out a way to stop it. Vlast’s birth started a new age and he would carry the burden. She could feel Kralkatorrik stirring and feared what would happen when he awakened. She still felt connected to him despite the cleansing she acquired from what the Forgotten had done to her.
It took some time checking for all the crystals and piecing this information together. Upon checking what appeared to be the last crystal, a portal opened. Rytlock was sure it went to her lair, so we went through it.
We entered to find the spear made by Glint to kill Kralkatorrik. Before we could debate on much we wound up in a nasty fight against a Facet Guardian. It took some figuring out, but the minions that would come to his aid had to be killed. They would then drop essences of darkness and light. Using these properly I could shield myself against the Facet’s attacks to get close enough to dispel its shield. There were several tries that hurt immensely due to not timing it right. Most of my attacks could be done from a safe range until I had to work on dispelling the shield. The dance took some time before the battle was won.
Glint was most uneasy with the prophetic visions she had of the heroes gathering to face the Elder Dragon. Rytlock is mad due to the outcome of that adventure. Kralkatorrik still lived but Glint, Snaff and Eir did not. He still needed the answer to make all this right and I’m not sure I can give it to him.
We destroy the spear though Rytlock thinks that is a bad idea. We can’t afford Balthazar getting ahold of it. The last time we met him he had wiped us up like mud on his floor. We did not need a weapon we were not ready, or possibly unable, to use. We needed something far greater in order to defeat a God.
We decide to get answers from the gods themselves….
To be continued in Issue 15. Return then to see how the gods react and where the adventure leads beyond.
About the Author
Althea joined Gaiscioch back in October of 2009 and has been here ever since with only a few month hiatus between Warhammer and Rift. As soon as she knew they were in Rift, she jumped ship to Faeblight and has followed them onward through every chapter since with a few side games thrown in for spice.
She has been an avid player of RPG style games since 1980 when she first played Dungeons and Dragons. Since then she has created her own tabletop gaming world used with various rule sets as D&D progressed. Once she could get online she played MUDs. Her MMO days started with Everquest and have moved through over a dozen games with some lasting only a month's time in her life and others going for years. She has tested several games from the perspective of a disabled gamer with hand issues due to her multiple sclerosis.
When not writing about or playing games, she can be found writing novels, reading and doing various art projects. She also writes items based on her faith and is working on publishing a novel. She also does editing for a gaming developer.
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