The old scribe sighed in frustration and leaned back from the table. He stared at the scroll in front of him. He tried to make sense of the dense block of characters on the scroll. Scholars who had seen the original scroll all agreed that the calligraphy was so fine, so elegantly interwoven and so perfectly structured, that one could achieve enlightenment simply from looking very closely at the image of all that perfectly arrayed black ink on the paper, even if one never read the actual words written. But it was no good for him. If he stared hard enough at his copy, it simply made his vision blur, and all the characters started to swim together. So it had been for the last dozen attempts he had made to replicate, exactly, the contents of the Scroll of the House of Earth.
A servant was kneeling at his side in a moment, pouring a fresh hot bowl of green tea without a word. After the tea was poured, the servant lingered and looked over his shoulder at the scroll. And then, to the scribe's surprise and annoyance, she dared to speak. “Ah, I see your frustration, Master Scribe Shei. The start of the Fourth Principle of the Strength of the Mountain should be indented another half-finger's width from the third character of the Parable of the Running Boulder.”
Master Scribe Shei sneered as he picked up his bowl. “I thank you humbly for your guidance, younger sister, but I have been working at these scrolls long enough to know them better than some…” he trailed off when he looked up and saw who had just poured him tea. “Lady Sajo! Forgive me, I did not know!”
Tanada Sajo, direct descendant of clan founder Tanada Hano and one of the most highly ranked Masters of the still-uncorrupted House of Fire, smiled indulgently at the old scribe. “It was not gracious of me to surprise you, Master Scribe. I decided to bring tea to the scribes because so many of our younger acolytes are caught up in clan business and I would not want you all to go thirsty. You must only seek forgiveness for your unkind thoughts when you thought a tea server crouched at your side, Master Scribe. As the Ancestor taught us, enlightenment is rarely found among the privileged and powerful.”
“Yes, my lady,” Shei mumbled. “I would be very grateful for whatever assistance you could provide, as you have seen the original itself, and I have only had copies, made by men as fallible as I.”
“The other Masters and I know what a difficult task we have put before you, Master Scribe. To have to replicate the true power and meaning of the original scrolls, with only the imperfect guidance of copies, is akin to asking one to re-found the clan all over again. Some things, it seems, cannot be replaced… And the spirits of this world are not the same as the ones who spoke to our Ancestor, all those years ago.” Sajo stared wistfully into the distance.
The scribe and the clan scion sat quietly together for a moment.
“Lady Sajo?” Shei's voice was quiet, frightened.
“Yes, Master Scribe?”
“What if we cannot succeed? What if we are unable to ever properly reconstruct the scrolls? Will there be no more Masters of Air, Earth, and Water? What if the House of Fire is the only one that remains whole while the others are adrift from the true power and legacy of the Ancestor?”
Sajo sighed softly. “I would say, Master Scribe, that if the other Houses are lost, then Fire itself will not be whole. All the Houses depend upon each other, and without the influence of the other three, the Fire will quickly become lost to itself as well. The House of Fire was meant to purge the weakness from the other houses. I imagine, in time, it would simply destroy the others.”
Shei shuddered. “Are we doomed? Have the unclean spirits of this world defeated our ancient traditions?”
Sajo stood abruptly and spoke with some anger in her voice. “We are not defeated. So long as any member of the House lives and cherishes the teachings of the Ancestor, there is hope. We must keep trying. We will rediscover the spirit ways of this world and learn our place within it. We will rediscover the light of the Ancestor's words, within ourselves if we have to. The Tanada made the scrolls. The scrolls did not make us. The Ancestor still watches over us, even here.”
She bowed quickly to Master Shei and left him there to keep working. She carried her teapot to another part of the hidden castle of the Tanada, past other scribes engaged in similarly painstaking efforts to re-write the Scrolls of Air, Earth, and Water. Her steps brought her to one of the few closed doors in the complex, the personal sanctum of her uncle, Tanada Han-Tu, Grand Master of the House of Fire. She knelt by the door and waited until she was summoned.
When her uncled called her inside, she bowed before him and poured him tea. She set the kettle aside and finally dared to look up into his eyes.
Tanada Hantu seemed surprisingly cheerful for a man who was contemplating the death of his proud clan and its ancient legacy. “What news from the scriptorium, Sajo?” he asked.
“The scribes are frustrated, uncle. They feel that reconstructing the scrolls as the Ancestor wrote them is an impossible task, that we have asked them to undertake something they can only fail. And I confess I have my doubts, as well.”
“It was perhaps a fool's hope,” Hantu admitted. “But it was a hope, and we could not discard any idea no matter how unlikely success might be. Nor was I even sure, if suitable copies could be made, that they would be able to overcome the influence of the scrolls that our enemies stole from us and corrupted.”
Sajo bowed again. “I did not mean to question the wisdom of your decision, uncle.”
Hantu chuckled, and Sajo looked up again. She could not help feeling a flash of anger at her uncle's evident lack of appreciation for the doom of the clan. Or had the pressure of their situation and the unique indignities of this maddening world finally gotten to him?
“I do not mean to make light of your concerns, niece.” Hantu picked up his bowl and took a long slurp of tea. “I am in this rare mood because a messenger recently brought me wonderful news.”
He paused and sipped his tea again, while Sajo stared at him. He smiled, relishing the anticipation. “In the wake of the magical disturbances that shook this realm not so long ago, our enemies have been uncovered. They are no longer able to hide from us the place where they keep the stolen scrolls.”
Sajo's eyes widened, and in her uncle's eyes she saw a hint of the old bloodlust that had made him such a powerful warrior in service to the House of Fire, back on Ispar.
“Yes, my niece. We know where they are. The Aluvian Queen's sorcerers have uncovered the appropriate… ah, what was their word for dragon blood… ley lines? We know where they are, and we will reclaim what is ours. To that end, I have an assignment for you. You will help us recover the scrolls, and forge a closer relationship with the other inhabitants of this accursed island.”
Ardry shivered as he cocooned himself more tightly into his bedroll. However compact he tried to make his body to preserve warmth, it didn't help. The ground beneath him was frozen and cold and it seeped right through the thin padding and fabric of the bedroll. The only thing he had to counteract it was the skin of wine he had bundled against his belly.
To his behind his curled-up form, a voice came out of the darkness. “Ardry, I am confused.” His uncle Aliester the Loquacious was trying to set up a theodolite nearby, by the dim light of the moon. It sounded like he wasn't having much luck. The stillness of the Direlands night was punctuated by the tinkling of metal pieces and soft scholarly curses.
Ardry didn't roll over to look at him. “About what, uncle?”
“Tell me again why we couldn't even have a fire to warm us, or light my way while I set up my experimental device?”
“It's too dangerous out here, uncle. We have many reports of strange things going on in the realm ever since T'thuun retreated from the world, and since we don't know what those lights are up on the plateau, I'd just as soon not alert whatever's there to our presence. And you said you could read the theodolite by moonlight.”
“Indeed, in some ways and for some readings, moonlight is far preferable to sunlight, but I belive in all such cases the theodolite is assembled in conditions with more light… If it's dangerous then why are we resting?”
“Because I've been running nonstop across Dereth for three days now, investigating that strange new town in the desert and the rumors of what lurks in the tunnels underneath that Sclavus fortress. I'm only out here because you just had to come see the new crystalline land formation for yourself. But I've now since realized I am too exhausted to scale that cliff right now. If you couldn't wait until morning to set out and take your theodolite readings, then you can wait a couple of hours for me to rest.”
There was a pause before Aliester responded. “I see. I apologize for my haste, nephew, and I acknowledge that I have not always taken your hardship into account when requesting information. But you know how important these geomantic anomalies are to my work, and since ley lines are mutable over time as well as space I felt we should move with some urgency as soon as I received that report. Besides, I thought it would be rewarding to do some field work with you.”
“Uncle, I have a feeling that, by ‘field work' you mean something more ambitious than just walking around the plateau and taking theodolite readings.”
“Why yes, of course. You always seem to have such interesting adventures, I decided this would be an opportune occasion on which to field-test a new implement!”
Ardry groaned. “What implement?”
He heard his uncle shuffling closer. He rolled over to have a look and saw the dim outline of the old sage digging into a pack and drawing out a large, book-shaped object. It was, in fact, a book. It looked like a heavy, leather-bound book with some kind of green sigil on its cover.
“That nice fellow Hisham sent me something new he's stocking. An elemental grimoire!”
“A book for casting spells, Ardry. This one in particular is attuned to the caustic humor. I must confess it never felt right to me to hold some kind of carved stick or glass ball to channel my arcane incantations. A trifle too much like the mountebanks who used to impress the gullible with props and hedge tricks near the university, back in my day. A grimoire is much more fitting.”
“What were you planning to do with that book?”
“Why, test it on live, hostile subjects of course! I have a cross-referenced chart that compiles all the empirical evidence gathered on the resistant properties of every creature known on Dereth…”
“Uncle, has it occurred to you that whatever is up there is not yet cataloged?”
“That would be even more fortuitous! We should get up there now so we can establish baseline behaviors in the nighttime hours, prior to exposure to humanoid—“
Ardry turned over again and pulled his blanket over his head. He took a long, resentful gulp from his wineskin and desperately tried to imagine himself being warm. “Uncle, I'm taking a nap. Go ahead and set up your device and take your readings. Wake me in two hours and then I'll take you up on the plateau to field-test your fancy new book.”
There was no response to that, and Ardry drifted off to an exhausted, angry sleep.
He awakened later, unsure of the time or how long he'd been asleep. It was still dark, and the moon still cast a faint light over his minimal camp site. A camp site that was distinctly lacking in elderly sages with a poor sense of self-preservation…
He was on his feet and running toward the plateau a few moments later. As he neared the giant new land formation, curiously studded with crystals, he was able to make out a small figure squirming up top. He saw his uncle, hanging by his hands from a rocky cliff edge. Without even stopping to think, Ardry bounded and clawed his way up a less sheer slope and ran to the ledge.
“Pwyll's bones, uncle, you couldn't wait for me?” He grabbed hold of one of his uncle's hands and started pulling him up.
Aliester sniffed as he scrabbled weakly up. “I wanted to show you I can handle field work on my own, nephew. I… Oh, what's that?” His eyes lit up with curiosity as he noticed something moving behind Ardry.
Ardry felt a stab of fear and wrenched himself backwards, pulling his uncle's body far up enough on the ledge. Aliester never even seemed to notice that he was back on solid ground, so intent was he on whatever he saw behind his nephew. He, at least, seemed delighted.
“Oh that's what the lights are coming from! It looks like some new kind of wisp! I can already feel a different sort of magical emanation from them…”
The wisp was right behind Ardry, now lying prone on the ground. Aliester started to get to his feet. There was a flash of bright light and a lightning bolt slammed into both of them. Other wisps converged from around the plateau, and soon the cliff face was brighter and more lively than either of them wanted.
Hello there and welcome to the February Release Notes! This month we have some exciting changes in store for everyone, including some much needed love for an old favorite among sword users and quest lovers alike. Lets see what changes are coming to Dereth this month!
Updated Content and Functionality
Summoning Tthuun - Players now can set off this event when they want by gathering books from a new dungeon.
Buruun Kings – Players can now get Mana Forge keys for completing the different parts of this quest
Dark Isle and Freebooter Isle creatures that are in dungeons no longer drop Mana shards
Alternate Currency Vendors - Clothing from last month got improvements, is dyeable and GY set had a price change
Spell stacking fixes - Beers should stack properly with other spells, tusker sprint and leap lowered to difficulty 401 to make them override level 8s but still be castable
Blighted/Black Coral Golems - new creature on Dark Isle that drop shards, and other useful items.
Some typos in Harbinger's Foci spell descriptions have been fixed.
Adept Spell set on armor has been fixed
Incantation of Armor Other found on the new tier armor is now at 250 instead of 225
The Monthly Kill Task NPC has been updated with a new task for this month.
T'thuun Sclavus now have a greater chance to spawn without a shield, and can now spawn with a melee friendly aegis shield as well
Star wisps no longer do untyped damage.
Ten more markers have been hidden around Dereth for the monthly Dereth Exploration.
The Sword of Lost Light and the Sword of Lost Hope can now be upgraded.
Additional items have been added to the Graveyard, Colosseum and Olthoi alternate currency vendors.
So there are just some of the things we have in store for Asheron's Call in February. Please remember that along with everything listed here, there are several new quests and exciting things going into the game for the February event.
Q: We weren't even done killing the tentacles and the npc for reward left, so again some people got left out.
A: How many tentacles left alive at that point is entirely up to the players.
The quest is designed to be done in which ever way the players feel like. Kill all the tentacles before the patriarchs so that there is plenty of safe time to collect the reward. Kill the patrairchs fast and then rush in through the tentacles to have a shorter fight time but more danger in collect the reward. Or any balance between the two approaches.
Since the reward NPC arrives after the patriarchs are dead, I think you will find that if you kill most of the tentacles before finishing off the patriarchs you will have a lot of time to collect the reward.
It wasn't repayment or an apology for the recent issues, that decision is made by higher-ups in the food chain than myself. It had been awhile since I visited Dereth but sadly my time was very limited, that's the reason for the quick visit.
I hope to have something scheduled for the near future involving more than dropping some tokens and baby chickens to slaughter the unsuspecting level 5, 295 burden mules in the Marketplace grabbing a token.