Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=564
January 2008: Recollections
The bugs just wouldn't stop coming. There shouldn't even have been that many in this chamber. Something was wrong.
Adso spun away from one Olthoi's stabbing, spearlike claw and ducked under a stream of sizzling acid from another. Patches of burned and slashed leather dotted his entire body, marking near-misses and narrow hits. Ignoring the acid that splashed onto his already wounded shoulder, he brought the full strength of his body to bear as he stepped into a lunging attack against the nearest Olthoi, the one that had just spit acid at him. He found the weak point where two plates of chitinous armor met just under the creature's head. He drove the point of his dirk into the gap and punched the thick blade in all the way to the hilt, then twisted his wrist and slammed his free hand against the pommel of his dirk like a hammer hitting a chisel.
With a shriek and a reverberating crack, the Olthoi's head split open from the bottom. Viscera and gore spilled onto Adso's outstretched forearm, and he pulled himself back into a defensive pose as the Olthoi fell heavily to the stone floor. He narrowly escaped another stabbing attack from the other Olthoi as he rolled back. He drew a throwing knife with his left hand while he brandished the gore-encrusted dirk with his right. Breathing hard and beginning to tire, Adso watched the Olthoi's attack patterns as he came into melee range with the beast. He hunched down in a defensive squat and parried the Olthoi's attacks low and away, forcing the creature to stoop over him, waiting for the telltale mandible movements that would alert him to an impending acid attack.
When the moment came, he reacted instantly and decisively. As the Olthoi drew its head back to spew acid at him, Adso's left hand shot out and jabbed the throwing knife right into the spot between the Olthoi's mandibles. The Olthoi reared up in agony, giving Adso just enough time and space to roll mostly out of the way before acid started pouring messily from the ruin of the Olthoi's maw. Adso stood back, watching in disgusted fascination as the Olthoi staggered back and forth, literally choking to death on its own acid. A few splashes had gotten onto his armor, again, as acid sprayed uncontrollably from the creature's suddenly ruptured mandibles.
So intent was Adso on the spectacle that he was almost surprised by the next wave of Olthoi charging up the tunnel. They came surging towards him out of the darkness, but stopped short of coming into melee range with him. He could see others fanning out into the corridors beyond, probably to surround him in the tunnels and cut off any chance of escape. He could feel the ground shaking, felt dust and rock shaking loose from the tunnel's ceiling and walls as something truly huge emerged from the shadowed chamber at the far end of this tunnel.
"This can't be right," Adso thought as the Olthoi Queen shuffled forward with all her soldier-children gathered around her. "There hasn't been a Queen in these tunnels since…" His thought went unfinished as he caught a glimpse of a grisly trophy impaled on one of the Queen's claws: a human head, with long blonde hair hanging from it, now caked with blood and dirt.
"It's not possible," Adso muttered to the Olthoi Queen and her assembled host. "You died years ago, before I even came here…" The Queen hissed, as if in response, and Adso began to back up the tunnel, retracing his steps to the surface. The Olthoi horde followed him, step for step, accompanied by triumphant-sounding hisses and screeches from their Queen. Finally, Adso turned and ran as fast as he could, and the horde took off after him in shrieking, chittering pursuit.
Adso found his exit tunnel blocked by rapidly advancing bugs, too many to avoid or quickly kill. He fled down another tunnel, in search of an alternate route, only to find it similarly blocked with a mass of charging insects, and so he ran again. At some point he gave up on trying to keep a sense of direction in the maze-like warren of tunnels and ran down whichever path seemed least dangerous or most likely to lead upward, towards fresh air and freedom. He was caught several times by Olthoi ambushes. Though he managed to narrowly escape a fatal strike each time and killed several more Olthoi, he was stabbed and burned repeatedly, and the ordeal was taking its toll on his health and his equipment. He gulped potions when he could and just tried to keep one step ahead of the ravening bugs.
Finally, after an eternity of running and fighting, with the breath wheezing out of him, his muscles burning with fatigue and his potions all gone, he saw a patch of light at the end of a long, upward-leading tunnel. Ignoring the pain that wracked his body, Adso ran. He was almost to the edge of the tunnel when a black spike lanced out of the darkness and impaled his calf. He stumbled and rolled to the ground, muscles torn. Behind him he could see three Olthoi and the darkened side in which they'd been hiding. He'd failed to notice that deeper patch of blackness on his way to the exit, blinded by fatigue and desperate hope of an escape. He'd fallen right into their trap.
"How'd you outsmart me anyway?" he asked softly, as the Olthoi crept slowly up on him. As if in answer to his question, there was a glow of purple light from behind. Adso turned his head to look, and he saw that a Virindi had appeared in the tunnel up ahead, in the exit to the surface world that had attracted his attention. He tried to crawl that way with just his arms and one good leg, determined at least to die in the fresh air, and not in these dank tunnels.
It wasn't just any Virindi, though… As Adso crawled closer, he could make out its masked face. Not the kind of mask that he was used to seeing on Virindi, and something in its posture indicated curiosity or interest, more than was usual from these aloof beings. The Virindi floated closer, and he could hear a voice, impatient and eager, echoing in his mind. "Tell me, human… How true does this realm feel to you? Did we correctly map the details? Master will be displeased if our work is imperfect…"
Before Adso could shake off his confusion and try to respond, there was an explosion of pain from his midsection. He looked behind him and saw that he'd been impaled to the ground by an Olthoi claw through his abdomen. He could feel the blood pooling hot beneath him, felt the agony from his stomach… Above him loomed an Olthoi, its other claw already slick with blood from Adso's leg. The bloody claw reared up in the air, ready to end his life… then lanced downward, right at his head…
* * * * * * * *
Adso woke up with a shout. It took him a moment to realize that he was lying in a bedroll by a campfire, not on a blood-slicked patch of tunnel with Olthoi and a strangely curious Virindi around him. He looked around, scared and confused, and saw Master and Sabithra also sitting up in their bedrolls, both of them wide-eyed and disoriented.
"I dreamed that the Olthoi Queen was not dead," Adso gasped.
"I dreamed that the Hopeslayer ruled Dereth! The seas and rivers were red with blood…" Sabithra whispered.
The two of them looked at each other, then looked at their Master, who was still silent, staring into the distance.
"Master?" Adso whispered. "Master, did you dream of something?"
"I dreamed I was still on Ispar," their Master muttered, his voice hollow with terror.
Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=566
Rollout Article - January
Ardry tightened the straps on his pack and slung it over his shoulder. The pack was bulging with books, not the field rations and spare weaponry that was his usual load-out when departing the chapterhouse. The small library here was his second-to-last stop on a long book-gathering expedition. Of course, this was not a normal mission, and he was relieved to have been assigned, for once, to a fairly safe task when the majority of his fellow scouts had been dispatched to some of the most dangerous corners of the realm.
Walking through the deserted hallways of the chapterhouse, Ardry nodded to the chamberlain Eddred at his desk as he walked to the exit portal. The old veteran nodded back, more interested in his whittling than the departure of the last scout. With most of the membership out on missions, Eddred wouldn't be needed until the wounded started trickling in, probably some hours from now…
Ardry stepped through the portal and into the bright, chilly morning light of the coast near Ayan Baqur. He trekked up the hill towards the Smoking Axe tavern in town. When he got there, his cousin Ulgrim was hunched over next to the entrance of the tavern, snoring softly, with an empty mug in his hand. Ardry almost stooped to take the empty mug from Ulgrim's hand to bring it in to the tavern keeper, but he remembered the terrible rain of boulders that his cousin had reflexively conjured from the sky the last time someone tried to pull a mug out of his hand while asleep…
Thinking better of it, Ardry went into the tavern and ordered two pints of stout from Berkholt. He sat cross-legged near his cousin and set the mugs on the ground.
"Cousin," he said softly. There was no response. "Cousin!" Still no interruption of the snoring. He tried shaking Ulgrim's shoulder, and still the old man slept on.
Sighing, Ardry said, "Free beer!" and was almost knocked over when Ulgrim shouted and jumped to his feet. It took a few moments for the besotted scholar to gain his bearings, and to spot Ardry sitting on the ground with two frosty mugs of stout beside him.
"Ah, young Ardry, how are you? And you brought stout, wonderful, dear boy. I must remember to tell your mother what a considerate child she raised. How is she, anyway?"
Ardry grimaced. "Still on Ispar, as she's been all these years, Cousin Ulgrim." He offered up a mug of stout. "Take the edge off?"
Ulgrim eagerly grabbed the mug and drained half of it in one gulp. "Ahhh, that hits the spot. Several of them, as it turns out." He smacked his lips with satisfaction, took a more leisurely sip, and regarded his cousin with surprisingly wary eyes. "So what can I do for you, Ardry?"
Ardry decided to come right out with it. "Uncle Aliester would like your notes on the Virindi Quiddity."
Ulgrim's eyes flashed. "Why would my cousin need that?" he asked. "Could it be, because my predictions are coming true?"
"Which predictions were those, exactly?" Ardry asked. His cousin was notorious for making a thousand self-contradictory claims about the threat posed by the Virindi.
"The predictions about the Virindi turning our brains to applesauce! I've been talking about this since Jaleh founded this town and asked me to come along and serve as the distinguished local scholar and man about town!"
Ardry nodded sagely, humoring Ulgrim's claim, knowing that his cousin had actually passed out drunk in the back of Berkholt's wagon before the expedition set out, and had not been discovered until they were halfway across the desert. "Of course. The applesauce predictions. Well, you were certainly right about that town takeover a few years ago…"
Ulgrim nodded, mollified. "I'm glad you understand, Ardry. No one else in this bloody town does." He drained the rest of his mug, and wordlessly accepted the second mug. "Well, since your mother was always so nice to me, I'll give you what you're looking for. Even if it's just because pompous old Aliester asked. Did you know, I was granted tenure at university before he was, even though he'd started his dissertation a year before me?" Ardry nodded, familiar with the tales. He continued to nod and make sympathetic noises as Ulgrim ranted, all the while patting at various regions of his ratty robes, evidently searching for something…
"Aha!" Ulgrim cried in triumph, pulling a rolled-up sheaf of papers from his boot. The sheets were tattered, stained, with uneven edges. It even looked like some tavern dishrags were in there, covered with scribbles. And it smelled like… nothing Ardry had ever smelled before, even when he'd been face-down in the bottom of a Mosswart warren. He tucked the pile of papers into his pack, hoping that nothing would leak out of it to damage any of the more fragile books in there.
"My collected observations on the nature of the Virindi Quiddity, with particular attention paid to the concept of a collective unconscious," Ulgrim announced proudly. He looked around conspiratorially, then leaned close to inform Ardry, "I keep it in my boot because it's the one place the Virindi wouldn't look. They don't have feet, you see?"
Ardry accepted the papers and smiled indulgently. "Of course. Makes perfect sense." He got to his feet. "I'm sorry to have to run, cousin, but I really must get back to Uncle Aliester."
"Make sure that old windbag credits me on whatever he publishes! Academic fraud is a serious offense!" Ulgrim yelled at him as he departed.
* * * * * * * *
Ardry stepped into the clearing near the cottage that Aliester the Loquacious maintained as his residence and research center. He saw bright candle light coming from the workshop where Aliester did all his alchemical experimentation.
As he approached, there was a flash of light and a loud bang from the workshop. A concussive blast of air washed over him and knocked him off his feet. He rolled upright quickly and ran for the cottage, fearing for his uncle's life.
Uncle Aliester met him in the front room as he came running through the open door. The old man was covered with black soot, and fragments of metal and glass were all over his robes, but he had a cheerful, almost joyous expression on his face.
"Ardry, my boy! I've finally isolated the variable that was destabilizing the concentration of those new alchemical infusions!"
Ardry blinked. "I'm not sure I understood any of that, Uncle," he said.
Aliester waved his hand dismissively. "Never mind, you never were much interested in the alchemical experiments. Are you still angry over the Reedshark chum incident? Never mind that, have you got the books?"
Ardry brought his pack to a nearby table. He opened it and began to stack the books on the table. "Everything you asked for, and a couple more that I came across, that looked interesting."
"Oh?" Aliester looked intrigued. "What were the extra books?"
Ardry produced two slim volumes from his pack, which looked like personal journals rather than guild-produced books. "Queen Elysa's personal recollections of the slaying of the Olthoi Queen, which Prince Borelean insisted I take while I was in the royal archives. And this is a journal of the confrontation with the Hopeslayer, written some years ago by an adventurer who led an expedition into the Sepulcher, who only identified himself as Animal of Frostfell."
Aliester smiled through soot-blackened lips. "Well done, Ardry! Both useful to our purposes, I am sure. In fact…" He examined the second book for a moment, then handed it back to Ardry. "You should read this one yourself. Memorize it. Become familiar with every detail in it. That's very important to your next mission, Ardry. You must have a foolproof memory!"
Ardry stared at the book, then at his Uncle. His heart sank as he realized what the nature of his next assignment would be.
Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=563
January 2008: Release Notes
Hello and welcome to the Release Notes for the January 2008 update of Asheron's Call! This month we find that the seasons have once again changed, and a chill is in the air. With this change of seasons, we see the arrival of snow once again across the landscape. This of course means that players may run into a snowman or two in their adventures. Be careful though, as not all snowmen are friendly.
Some adventurers have been reporting that they have been having some problems recalling exactly what happened during some of Dereth's major events. Some feel that Aerbax is involved in this somehow. Perhaps speaking with Asheron could clear things up?
Lets see what else is happening in Dereth this month!
We have raised the damage of Streak spells across the board. Players using these spells should notice an increased amount of damage when using these spells in combat. Below is a listing of the damage before and after the changes we have made.
Alchemy peas have been added to the game. This will help those who use grenades create their wares in batches now. We suggest all those interested, speak with Janier al-Evv in Xarabydun.
With the turning of the seasons, the landscape has once again begun to take on a more winter feel.
The events that were started in October, will be turned off this month. This includes the Al-Jalima invasion, the Harvest Reaper spawns, and the the Majestic Pumpkin.
Frosthaven has once again become an active area. Make sure to check the area out and help the snowmen.
Rumors of a Snowman who is need of assistance have been floating around recently. They say he has been seen most frequently in the mountains to the northeast.
Since it is the winter season, the presents have returned to Dereth. Have you been good?
Some new named creatures have been seen in the Direlands. It is reported that these creatures are not only a bit tougher, but they also drop a unique item upon death, which can be turned in for a reward.
Aerbax is up to something strange. Many of Dereth's citizens have been reporting having some strange visions of events past.
A new face has appeared in Fort Tethana. Make sure you investigate why he is here.
Players will soon have the ability to purchase a rename for their characters. There are some rules and restrictions to this new feature. Please keep watching the forums for the official announcement.
So there are just some of the things we have in store for Asheron's Call in January. Please remember that along with everything listed here, there are several new quests and exciting things going into the game for the January event.