In a roughly excavated cavern deep beneath the surface of northwestern Osteth, a Virindi ranked Master among the Apostate faction consulted with a group lower-ranked Servants who were bound to its will. The Master had received personal instructions from the shadowy Consul who directed the entire Apostate faction. It sat at the center of a circle of five Servants, turning to each to receive its report.
“The tunneling has been completed,” one of the Servants reported. “The Gotrok diggers breached the final wall at the end of their day cycle. We did not require them to work past their meal hour.”
The Master acknowledged the Servant's report and turned to another member of its circle of minions. “The Reaving Facility is complete. The Gotrok builders have reinforced the interior walls. We Servants completed the matter transference points and Aetherium storage chambers.”
The third one also reported on a task successfully completed. “The Simulacra have been created. We were able to gain access to the techniques the rogue Aerbax developed in creating its ‘Prodigal Children.' The Consul itself supervised the creation and development of these variants, which we believe will be far superior to the crude approximations that the renegade Levistras created during its own attempt to create a New Singularity. These Simulacra will be capable of channeling and focusing mana energy. The Simulacra will come through the gate in one hour, after the Consul has finished conditioning them.”
The Master turned to its fourth Servant for a report. “Our Isparian proxies have assembled enough equipment to arm and armor the bodies of the anticipated Simulacra. The weapon shipments have been transferred without Isparian interference, and are stored in the Reaving Facility itself. The improved Simulacra will benefit from improved weaponry as well as improved thaumic combat capabilities.”
The Master felt the nascent twinges of an emotion that could be described as pleasure or pride as it turned to its fifth Servant. “The gate to the Arrival Chamber has been constructed,” it reported. “Our remote sensing indicates that the mechanical beings have responded to our beacon. As the Consul expected, they have been attempting to find their way to this world-nexus since the disappearance of their first delegation. The patterns of Aetheric energy flow indicate the imminent arrival of a small delegation.”
The Master turned to the third Servant. “Bring the Simulacra to the armory when they arrive, make sure they are fully armed and armored, and dispatch them into the Reaving Facility. Notify me when the Simulacra are equipped and in place to intercept the new arrivals.” The Servant dipped in the air and left to carry out its orders.
The Master turned to the second Servant. “Station yourself near the Arrival Chamber to start transferring the mechanical beings through the Gate into the Reaving Facility. Bring through no more than one at a time until we have assured ourselves of the Simulacra's effectiveness against them. Await further instructions there.” That Servant dipped and departed.
The Master then turned to direct orders to its first Servant. “Prepare the Gotrok in the tunnels to defend the entrance. We will not have Isparians overrunning this facility and ruining our ruse, as has occurred at other facilities.”
With those three Servants gone, the Master issued common orders to the two remaining. “Report to the Reaving Facility and be prepared to support the Simulacra should our calculations of their physical and mental capabilities prove inaccurate. Our calculations are based on potentially obsolete specimens that were last seen on this world hundreds of Isparian year-cycles ago. As we under our Consul are stronger than the renegades that followed Levistras, and the Isparians have surprised us with the developments of their capabilities over time, so too might these mechanical beings surprise us with their own advancements in that time.”
The last two Servants dipped and drifted towards the newly constructed facility. Now alone, the Master sank deep into its own mind to commune with the Consul that had created it and given it sentience. “All preparations are in place. We await the arrival of your Simulacra.”
The Consul responded with a brief, perfunctory acknowledgement. With that, the Master waited in silence to receive a report of readiness from the third Servant.
An hour later, a period which was virtually instantaneous to its own sense of time, the Master received a mental notification from the third Servant. “All Simulacra are conditioned, equipped with Isparian arms and weaponry, and ready for combat.”
The Master contacted the second Servant, the one it had stationed by the gate between the Arrival Chamber and the Reaving Facility. “Have the mechanical beings arrived?” it asked.
The Servant responded, “A delegation has arrived. They have so far only explored the limited space of the Arrival Chamber. They have taken no actions yet, but we sense that they are in communication with their home world. Our analysis of their behavior and physiology indicates that they are of minimal standing within their hierarchy. We judge them to be scouts. No leader has appeared.”
“Notify your counterparts to make ready, and send one through the Gate.”
A short time later, the Master received a report from the Servants stationed with the Simulacra. “One mechanical being came through the Gate. While it possesses great physical strength, its thaumic combat capabilities are limited. It was no match for the massed attacks of the Simulacra. Our intervention was unnecessary. It has been disabled. We are dismantling it and taking its parts to the matter transference points to harvest the Aetherium. Preliminary analysis indicates a great reserve of Aetherium stored within its power core.”
The Master told the Servant at the Gate to start sending more through. It bobbed in the air with idiosyncratic pleasure as reports kept coming of mechanical beings being sent through the Gate and falling to the forces stationed there. Finally, something was going according to plan for at least one Master of the Apostate Virindi…
It was interrupted in its reverie by an urgent report from the Servant at the Gate. “A leader has come into the Arrival Chamber. Behavior analysis indicates it is a sub-commander, well below the rank of a Primus, but much more powerful than projected by the analysis of the older specimens. Its energy emanations are unorthodox, unexpected. We are monitoring it for—“
The message ended abruptly.
At that moment, a message came from one of the Servants stationed with the Simulacra in the Reaving Facility. “The Gate has been closed. It is still active, but we can no longer exert control over it.”
Ardry ducked as another lightning bolt whizzed over his head. His armor had already absorbed too many bolts of lightning and gouts of acid conjured by the Apostate Master of this installation. He'd fought his way down here through rocky tunnels filled with giant, angry Gotrok Lugian diggers and the polished stone walls of the facility where the Apostates were conducting their latest round of arcane experiments, and the resistance had been unexpectedly tough.
The Lugians, of course, were a known quantity. Ardry had already explored several cavern complexes dug by the specialized Aetherium miners. Nor had the Hea Tumeroks guarding the surface entrance of the complex been a surprise – renegade Hea and Gotrok were well-established allies of both the old Virindi renegades under the rogue Director Levistras and the new Apostate faction led by their mysterious Consul.
The Simulacra he'd encountered in this “reaving facility”, whatever that meant, were a surprise, however. Isparian-looking bodies animated by the will of Virindi puppet-masters were nothing new, but the power wielded by these Simulacra and the weapons and armor they used had never been encountered by any of the Royal Council's scouts, and he was already mentally formulating what he'd say in his report about them. He figured that Queen Elysa and her advisors would be very interested to hear about how well equipped these Simulacra were, and that they would have to investigate their supply chains and quartermasters to see how the Virindi Apostates were getting their hands on such fine equipment.
Even more disturbing was the work he'd seen the Simulacra doing. They were carrying around metal limbs, apparently parts from the “Gear Knights” that he had been sent here to contact. The hollowed-out metal carcasses he'd seen had confirmed that much. They were doing something with the parts. It looked very much like they were scraping some kind of material out of the inside of the parts and storing it in containers very similar to the storage vessels the Virindi had made a habit of stashing around the Direlands. He wondered if he'd gotten here too late to make contact with the delegation that Lord Asheron had told him to expect.
He shook away his reverie as he dodged back, narrowly avoiding the swipe of the Master's sickle. As battered and tired and wounded as he was, he knew that this Apostate would have to be near extinction itself, so he danced forward and jabbed his blade into the creature's blank white mask. He put all his flagging strength behind that strike, and was rewarded with the familiar shivering sensation as the very fabric of creation itself seemed to warp around the Virindi's collapsing core. There was a clap of air rushing inwards as the Virindi dematerialized.
The Apostate Master left him something to think about, though. He heard peals of dissonant, disembodied laughter as the cloak and mask fell to the ground. Then, the part he hated worst: the dying Master whispered directly into his mind. “Enjoy your brief triumph, Isparian meat puppet. The Consul has achieved its aim already.”
He shook his head to clear away the alien presence, and rooted through the pile of fabric left behind. Finally he found what he needed: a key that would open the door to the next chamber in this facility. He ignored the cold fear that suddenly crept up his spine, checked the corridor to see that the Virindi's bodyguards or subordinate Servants had not come back, and went to the door.
Mentally, he rehearsed the speech that Lord Asheron himself had made him memorize before embarking on this mission. “In the name of Lord Asheron of Knorr and the Isparian Queen Elysa of the people of New Aluvia, I bid you welcome to the nexus world of Auberean and to the island of Dereth. On behalf of the allied Empyrean and Isparian peoples of this realm, Lord Asheron wishes to humbly submit his heartfelt apology for the accident that befell the Primus of the Golden Gear and its attendant dignitaries. The ambassador's party was a victim of a catastrophe that befell Lord Asheron's people, and no treachery was intended. Lord Asheron offers to visit your home world as a show of his good faith to re-establish the ties that your Primus had intended to forge.”
Confident that he knew the speech, Ardry unlocked the door. He laughed when he saw the last security measure behind the door. Soon enough, he was past the obstacle and standing in front of the portal. He took a deep breath and rehearsed the speech again.
Finally, he stepped through the portal. When the wrenching and warping sensation of the journey through portal space was complete, he found himself in a large, dim room lacking any kind of ornamentation. Portal energy crackled across every surface of the smooth stone here, and he shivered as he felt the power of this site. At the far end of the room, silhouetted in crackling purple light, was a hulking humanoid shape constructed entirely of metal, with thick limbs and wide shoulders. Its head was a rounded bump rising from his broad chest. It was surrounded by smaller versions of itself, presumably guards or servants. These, at last, were the Gear Knights he'd been sent to talk to.
Soon enough, they noticed him. The larger one in the center turned and strode towards Ardry with a stiff, long-striding gait, flanked by its retainers. Ardry bowed deeply as it approached and started his speech.
“In the name of Lord Asheron of Knorr and the –“ was as far as he got. The large Gear Knight strode up to Ardry and whipped one of its great, metal arms at him. The heavy metal gauntlet smashed into Ardry's chest, breaking a few ribs and flinging him back to crumple against the wall behind him.
Suddenly he noticed the weapons carried by the Gear Knight retainers. A metallic voice boomed from the center of their leader's chest. “Isparian located. Ally of the traitor Asheron identified. Physical similarity to thieves and kidnappers confirmed. Commencing combat and termination protocols.” As the Gear Knights raised their weapons, everything Ardry had seen, and the smugness of the dying Apostate Master, finally made sense.
Hello there and welcome to the Release Notes for the September Event, Cogs in the Machine! Festival season is upon us once again, and the chill of fall is on the air. As we fast approach ten years here in Dereth, there is a definite feeling that change is coming. Lets see what else is new and exciting in Asheron's Call this month!
Festival Season is upon us. Masks and Guises and Pumpkins, oh my!
The Arcanum is seeking to learn more about the mysterious clockwork soldiers.
Also the next stage in the Thug quest will be available. Fiona will still be in her cage due to the problems this month.
A Scholar has appeared in Eastham who is particularly interested some recent events.
The monthly kill tasks are updated.
The monthly Explorer Task has been updated.
Monster Fights, The Carnezi Race, and Fiona should no longer have problems with locking up or starting.
Anyone who was stuck on the Nexus Crawl started by Ned the Clever by not being able to pick up the shard will be able to pick up the shard after talking to Ned again.
The mansion that was having problems with basement access has been fixed.
So there are just some of the things we have in store for Asheron's Call in September. Please remember that along with everything listed here, there are several new quests and exciting things going into the game for the September Event.
The bug in the card seems to be causing timing issues when drawing to the sky. If I cannot find a work around with the hardware based graphics code I will add a software rendering option in the video options so people can stop the flicker without going through all the hoops described here. This will probably be in for the 10th anniversary.