Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=584
Dispatch - June
Adso crested the hill and looked out over the valley. Wary of being spotted from below, he crouched down and made himself part of the scraggly brush covering that topped this hill. Far beneath him, the ruined Empyrean graveyard brooded in its own darkness. Even from this distance, hidden by the valley's perpetual black fog, he could make out the movements of the many unnatural denizens of the graveyard.
Roving patrols of the tormented dead and packs of huge rats, twisted by their exposure to the unnatural grounds… He knew these enemies well. He'd made numerous scouting expeditions into the heart of this graveyard to seek out an artifact or to track down some long-dead noble that his Master sought news of. He'd gained more than a few scars to show for all his trouble, and he was not looking forward to the next trip. The target of his new search was known to be powerful and unpredictable, and Adso hated dealing with such a degree of uncertainty.
From ten paces behind him came the sound of a rustling branch, too loud to be caused by wind. He spun, blades out and ready to confront an enemy, when Sabithra stepped out of brush cover. He relaxed slightly, but not completely, as she approached with a grin on her face. Though she had risen in Master's estimation and trust, Adso still didn't trust her, and wouldn't put it above her to knife him in the back to smooth her own path to advancement within their small organization.
"At ease, Adso," Sabithra smirked when she noticed his tension. She raised her hands and wiggled her fingers to show she was not carrying any weapons. "We're all friends here."
"You are no friend of mine, acolyte," Adso muttered. He pointedly did not sheathe his blades. "Your fieldcraft still wants improvement. I heard you coming."
Sabithra bowed with false modesty. "I am ever willing and eager to receive training from my betters," she said. "But I got close." The glint in her eyes showed the delight she took in tweaking his nose this way.
Adso grunted, upset that he'd let himself show his irritation to Sabithra. "Why are you here?"
Sabithra pulled a thin, rolled-up dispatch from her belt, sealed with red wax and a device he knew well. He took it from her without a further word, and read it.
Without being asked, Sabithra began to elaborate. "It seems Master got word that some other players seek an audience with Lord Rytheran. Master wishes for you to suspend your original mission and take me with you to find Rytheran to ensure that we get the item Master seeks, before servants of some other interested party cozen it out of the undead lord."
Adso grimaced and looked up at her from his letter. "And did he tell you what my mission is?"
Sabithra shrugged. "He told me the details were not important to me, but scuttlebutt among the younger acolytes said that you were off to find the Jester. That you were supposed to… talk to him. Get a story out of him. We wondered what you'd done to get such a… choice assignment."
"Prying into missions that are not one's own responsibility will eventually get one killed," Adso warned, as he finished reading the letter.
"Provided one is an inferior fighter to one's killers, one supposes," Sabithra quipped.
Adso ignored that obvious bait and rolled up the letter. Unwilling to burn this letter while he was attempting to maintain some cover, he settled for ripping it into a few small pieces and eating them, chewing each piece thoroughly and methodically.
Sabithra watched with amusement, as if their Master's very strict security instructions were nothing to her. It didn't make the letter go down any easier.
Finally, he was ready to set out into the graveyard. He scanned the horizon one last time, then turned back to Sabithra. "Can you control your cockiness long enough for an audience with Rytheran? I promise you he will not suffer your impertinence. If you bungle this mission for us, I'll send you back to the lifestone myself."
Sabithra nodded seriously. "You know I am dedicated to the Master's craft, as dedicated as you are, Adso. I may joke around, but I remember myself when the knives are out."
That would have to do. He nodded. "Fair enough. Follow me, then…"
He led them by a side path off the hill, and towards the graveyard. He relied on his past knowledge of the site to steer them past the most dangerous concentrations of rats and undead. They moved low and quietly and ducked behind cover as much as they could. They spent half an hour cautiously making their way into the heart of the graveyard, and soon Adso began to feel comfortable with Sabithra as a hunting partner. She was a competent sneak and she had good reflexes and seemed to anticipate his own moves, working in harmony with his leadership.
He was so pleasantly surprised that he allowed himself to get complacent. As they passed one set of ruined stones, she reached out absent-mindedly to touch one stone in particular. He noticed her motion but didn't think about it… until her fingers left glowing traces on the stone's smooth surface.
He felt the blood drain out of his face as high-pitched laughter boomed out above and behind them.
"Joy! Someone's come to help me clear my head!" The sound of jingling bells had never sounded so menacing…
Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=585
Rollout Article - June
An old woman, tired and alone, stood in front of a stone altar. The set of her back was imperiously high and proud, but she could not keep her shoulders from sagging or her head from drooping periodically, out of sheer exhaustion. Her white hair was close-cropped and she was dressed in a plain linen robe, spotted with brown bloodstains on the sleeves and chest. The oblong room in which she stood was lit only by a flickering candelabra positioned near the wall behind her. Atop the altar in front of her was a wide silver bowl, filled with clear water. She was staring intently into the water and muttering under her breath, in words that only a handful of people would understand. She had been looking into the placid, unchanging surface for hours. If she saw anything in the water now, it was surely only illusions conjured by her weary mind…
Finally, Nuhmudira snorted in disgust and frustration and looked away from the water vessel. Turning from the altar, she called out, "Brizinna!"
A door opened in the far end of the room and a younger woman, dressed in much cleaner linen robes, shuffled in. She had the pale blue skin of a Viamontian and her hair was a bright, almost shocking red. As she came in she snuck a glance at the older woman, standing suspended in her bubble of candlelight with her altar and scrying bowl, surrounded on all sides by darkness, and she couldn't help shuddering at the image as she averted her eyes and knelt in submission.
"I am here to serve, teacher," the younger woman murmured.
Nuhmudira sneered. "Oh, stand up, woman. I didn't pull you out of the Varicci's college of royal finger-wagglers so you could scuttle around on your knees, bowing and scraping to everyone who's older or more learned than you."
Embarassed, Brizinna stood up with what dignity she could muster and asked, "What would you have of me, teacher?"
Nuhmudira gestured. "Come. Stand here, opposite me." Brizinna quickly complied, and came to stand on the opposite side of the altar from her leader and mentor. She stood silently, looking off into a point in space just above Nuhmudira's left shoulder, not daring to meet the powerful mage's gaze. She was aware that Nuhmudira was watching her, seemed to be studying her, almost like a cat studying a wounded bird before pouncing.
"Give me your hand, Brizinna," Nuhmudira said, in a soft and soothing voice. Brizinna extended her right hand, palm down, and watched with fascination as Nuhmudira took it into her own right hand. She had expected the elder sorceress to have rough, callused hands, but her touch was warm and comforting. She watched as Nuhmudira turned her hand over so that her palm faced up. She belatedly realized that she was being lulled into a trance, could almost feel the spell working on her, looked into her teacher's face and saw lips moving and forming near-silent syllables that were…
She was broken from her stupor by a flash of pain in her palm, followed by a gush of warmth that enveloped her whole hand. She gasped at the pain and belatedly noticed the bronze knife in her teacher's free hand... A free hand that was wrapped in bloody white linen. Nuhmudira had pacified her senses only to cut her palm open, and now her blood was dripping in hot pulses into the silver bowl.
Nuhmudira released her hand, almost as an afterthought. "There are strips of cloth to bandage your palm with at the base of the altar," she said. Her voice was absent-minded and distant, with not a hint of remorse or regret for wounding her student.
Shocked, Brizinna sought out the linen strips as directed, and wound them around her palm until she had bandaged it securely. She couldn't keep the sense of betrayal out of her face as she sought her teacher's eyes.
Nuhmudira was staring into the bloodied water with an expectant grin, when she finally thought to look at Brizinna again. Her lip curled with contempt when she saw Brizinna's hurt expression.
"Did you think blood magic just meant other people's blood, young girl? You have much to learn about the Radiant Blood if you thought the path to mastery would require no sacrifices of your own."
Nuhmudira looked down into the swirling blood and water and grinned triumphantly. Brizinna looked into the bowl and watched with horrified fascination as the blood seemed to drain out of the bowl and the crystal-clear water started to cloud over, turning opaque, and then starting to display an image…
"Some of the Old Ones have grown finicky, and prefer the taste of blood unwillingly given," Nuhmudira said in a conversational tone. "Perhaps they have tasted my own blood too often, and would not give me the power I needed to defeat that old fool's warding until they got a taste of your fear and pain. Or perhaps they simply wanted the taste of a younger, fresher life." She almost seemed to leer at her student.
Brizinna shuddered, but could not look away from the image taking shape in the bowl. It resolved itself into something recognizable… something that looked like a skeletal corpse in a grey robe, reclining on a throne carved from stone. At first she thought Nuhmudira was scrying another crypt to loot for Empyrean artifacts. But then the corpse moved, and seemed to stare directly at her. There was a malevolent light in the skull-face's eye sockets, and she knew she was face to face with one of the great undead lords of Dereth.
She heard Nuhmudira's throaty laughter from across the altar. "I have you now, my lord of bones."
Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=583
Release Notes - June
Greetings and welcome to the June 2008 Release notes! Let's see what is new and exciting this month in the world of Dereth!
Updated Content and Functionality
There are now two summoning stones in the Graveyard. One summons the Jester with the old quests, other summons Jester with new quests. You must complete last month's quest before he will allow you to do this month's.
The Jester in the Graveyard will allow you to hand him in a spectral Soul Bound staff for a new one - this is for the players whose staff did not update on last patch like it should have.
The Jester at end of the Jester dungeon will now reward players with a jester card for repeat runs along with the Arcane Pyramid.
The Jester in the Graveyard will allow you to turn in a Soul Bound spectral atlatl for a new one with a lower wield requirement. Please make sure you have the available pack slots when ever you turn in items.
The Jester Trap hall now has a new path at the end for the players that couldn't get the run across right in earlier attempts.
Glenden Wood invasion has been changed to no upper level cap on the dungeons. To allow for this the starting quests now come from the royal guards instead of Tomo (it would be confusing for Tomo to just list off the info for all 3 quests when you initially talk to her).
The Colosseum ticket typo has been fixed.
Drudge Balloons are now called Drudge Balloons instead of Drudge Ballooons.
The Soul Bound Spectral Caster is no longer invisible when hooked.
The word askance is no longer in the love note from Laylana.
The Soul Fearing Vestibule quest has had some adjustments made to it. The High Acolytes Skull is now on a 13 day pickup timer instead of 5 hours.
The XP reward for turning in the Acolytes Skull has been raised on both NPC's you can turn it in to.
The Hunter's Leap/Lilitha's Bow quest has had its rewards updated.
The Green Mire Grave has had its rewards updated.
So there are just some of the things we have in store for Asheron's Call in June. Please remember that along with everything listed here, there are several new quests and exciting things going into the game for the June event.
Q: I wonder if there ever was a chance for Toby Ragaini and Tim Brennen and Andy Reiff and Chris Dyl and Jason Booth would ever have the chance to work on, if not contribute to the next child of Asheron's Call v1?
A: Wow, thanks Josh.
I'm afraid the chance of any new Asheron's Call content being produced is slim and certainly outside of my personal ability to make happen.
It's been eight years since I left Turbine. Of the list of talented folks you mention, only Chris Dyl is still working there.
It's been hard to watch from a distance as Turbine weathered its up and downs. It was especially bitter-sweet to see the story I had written for the shadow war play out after I left. I was delighted to see it come to fruition but my disappointment of no longer being able to contribute was palpable.
In the end, I think we need to appreciate AC for what it was: a labor of love that will not soon be equaled in scope and daring. For all its numerous flaws, it seems to have made a positive impact on many people, and for that, I am truly happy.