Isin Dule floated back and forth anxiously while he awaited the return of one of the scouts. He looked over at Lord Dargeth but said nothing. Borelean had left to deal with another matter, of which he did not share much information, leaving Lord Dargeth to work with Isin Dule until he returned. Isin Dule, however, did not feel relaxed enough with this stranger to enter into idle conversation, which left a strong uncomfortable tension in the air as everyone waited in silence.
Muttering guards could be heard outside followed by a hurried clamoring coming up the stairs. Isin Dule peered through the doorway to see one of his scouts, bleeding and beaten, and he motioned for the guards to allow his entry.
“I welcome your return. It appears as though you've survived a fierce battle.”
“The shadows were formidable opponents. They are being led by Ler Rhan and Black Ferah.”
From the moment he had heard of the Shadow Spire breaking ground in Tou-Tou, Isin Dule had feared Ler Rhan was likely behind it. He fully understood the power that Ler Rhan and Ferah possessed. Isin Dule had met them on the battlefield once before, and in a past life he had even considered them friends and allies. Much like their leader, Bael'zharon, both of those dark beings wanted only to cause pain and destruction upon this world. Their return could only mean that a new battle was inevitable. The only questions being, when would it begin and which side would prevail this time?
“And what did you discover beneath the spire?”
“Ler Rhan is already working on bringing warriors to his side. In fact, by fighting off so many of his minions, he deemed my strength suitable for his cause. Which is why he gave me this communiqué to bring to Ferah as a way to pledge my loyalties. Perhaps he figured the risk was small since I have no way of reading the message.” The scout reached into his satchel, pulled out a fleshy lump and handed it to Isin Dule.
Isin Dule almost laughed as he realized Ler Rhan was still using the same method of coding messages he himself had created back when they were allies. Any humor gained from that discovery was quickly washed away by the dire contents of the message. As hatred filled his eyes, Isin Dule engaged his strong self control in order to stop himself from crushing the lump in his hand.
Handing the message back to the scout, Isin Dule said. “Deliver this message to Ferah as Ler Rhan instructed. I would prefer they believe no one else knows what this message says.”
“Understood. I also noticed that the shadows seemed to be excavating some odd looking purple crystals, but I did not have the chance to get a closer look.”
Isin Dule turned and stared out the window. “Then I fear it may already have begun…”
Borelean was proud of his knights. They had managed to track down the location of one of the most dangerous rituals Dereth had ever seen. Sir Learth, in particular, had successfully organized the diverse peoples of Dereth to stage a world-wide hunt for the enchanted mnemosynes that both anchored the ritual's defenses, and yet dispersed enough of the energy that it had remained all but undetectable. Now, finally, all that work was coming to fruition.
The site of the final ritual had been discovered. Asheron himself had spent weeks deciphering the information stripped out, in fragments, from the enchantments on the ten mnemosynes. Now, they could at last put an end to the insane Dericost Emperor's vile alterations of the very fabric of time.
Borelean sat in his study and contemplated the best way to put the ritual down as quickly and quietly as possible. He feared that if the first attack failed, Emperor Geraine would just harness the power of the ritual for other purposes. Perhaps he would go back in time, alter some key step in the ritual, so that they would never discover it at all. Or perhaps he would move the ritual, leaving troops behind to ambush them. Regardless, the chance to succeed would not come again. He decided that a decisive attack would be the best course, before any of the undead could figure out that the defenses on the ritual had been breached. Borelean stood up from his desk and summoned the knight stationed outside his door.
“Yes, Your Highness?” answered the knight, with a crisp salute.
“Gather a fellowship of the highest ranked combat knights, to accompany me on a mission. And be quiet about it. I don't want word of this getting out before it is done.”
“Yes, Your Highness. It will be as you say,” replied the knight with another salute. He then spun on his heel and left the study. As he passed through the door, he bowed politely to someone in the hallway, and Hoshino Kei entered the study.
“Don't want word getting out about what?” she asked, with a slight smile on her face.
“By the Light, you do have the most uncanny ability to hear things from far away,” replied Borelean, returning the smile. “Shut the door, and I'll fill you in.”
Borelean spent the next several minutes filling his wife in on everything that had been learned, as well as his plans for attacking the ritual site as soon as preparations could be made. “So you see, my love, if we can successfully disrupt this ritual before they can undo what we've learned, we will not only end Geraine's tampering with the timestream, but get a chance to both destroy him and remove the Book of Eibhil from the hands of the Dericost once and for all.”
“Sounds dangerous,” Hoshino Kei replied, “I better get the new robe and wand Asheron gave to me for our wedding.”
“Hold on, my love. I don't think you should go on this one,” said Borelean, sounding serious. “This ritual has the potential to be the most dangerous mission I've ever sent anyone on. I'd feel much better knowing you were safe while we dealt with this.”
“Oh please. I'm one of the best battle mages in this castle, and you know it,” said Hoshino Kei, sounding slightly annoyed. “I love you and appreciate that you want to protect me, but don't let your sense of chivalry rob you of help you are going to need. Besides, how much danger could I really be in with you beside me?” she added, a little more lightheartedly than she felt.
“I don't like this. You may be one of the most skilled battle mages here, but you are still less experienced in battle than most of our knights.”
She just gave him that look he knew meant she wasn't going to give up.
Borelean laughed. He already had too many battles being waged on too many fronts—he didn't need one more. He said with a smile, “Unfortunately, I also know my chances of stopping you from following me amount to a bit less than zero. So, if you're going to come, please, please, just stay in the middle of the group. You running out in front and trying to kill everything with ring spells before the knights can even engage will be the death of me.”
Hoshino Kei laughed. “Don't worry, my love, I'll endeavor to hold back a little, and not make your precious knights feel like extra baggage.” She then added, a bit more somberly, “I understand the importance of this mission succeeding. A great many things hang in the balance. We won't fail. Besides, even if I do screw up, it wouldn't be my first trip to the Lifestone, nor yours, for that matter.”
“Let's not dwell on trips to the Lifestone before the mission. It sets a rather fatalistic cast on the whole endeavor even before we start. Go, get ready. I have to get the knights gathered together and briefed, as well as get myself ready.” Borelean gave his wife a polite kiss on the cheek, and then escorted her out of his study. A few minutes later, a line of knights and knight mages filed into the room, standing at attention.
“Alright, now that we're all here, let's get down to business.”
Several hours later, the group, led by Borelean and Hoshino Kei, was fighting their way through caves and hallways, to make their way to the deepest parts of the complex that hid the ritual. Though they endeavored to be as quiet and efficient as possible, the sounds of combat still rang down the halls, and reinforcements were beginning to filter in from various directions.
In the midst of a larger battle, there was a pause before the next wave of attackers hit them. It was then Borelean asked, “Still glad you came, Your Highness?”
Between spells, Hoshino Kei replied, “Of course, Your Highness. I didn't study War Magic because I intended to spend all my time sitting in a library pouring over scrolls. Or doing needlework.” In the background they heard the groans coming from the other knights, who were still getting used to their banter.
Lord Bors interjected, “More fighting, less talking please. This is supposed to be a quiet mission, not a weekly run down some bug hole for camaraderie and some hunting experience.” The prince and princess had the good graces to look properly contrite at the rebuke. “Here they come.”
A short while later they made it to a vertical shaft overlooking the ritual which was already in progress. The enemy did not appear to have any additional guards stationed around the ritual itself. Just five casters, working around an exposed Ley Line. “There's our target. Lord Bors, pick four knights to engage the other casters. The rest of us will focus on the main caster, there,” Borelean whispered, while pointing out the largest of the undead, shrouded under a hooded robe. “Is everyone ready?”
Everyone nodded, and then the group jumped down into the midst of the ritual. Violence erupted almost instantly between the support casters and the knights, but the main caster looked up almost nonchalantly at the armored forms raining down into his circle. As many defenders began to portal in around the edges of the circle, Emperor Geraine quietly closed the Book of Eibhil and said, “Ahh, finally. I have been expecting thee.”
Spring has sprung and spread its glory around Dereth. Keep an eye out for baby critters and the teams work on a variety of experiences and issues. This month some bothersome issues have been fixed in addition to new content being added.
Take a few minutes to check out what's new for April!
Monthly Kill Task has been updated.
Quests of the Month updated.
The reset time for Deewain's final door has been reduced.
Various changes have been made to the Shadow Fortress dungeon.
The statue of Greedy Wishes now gives a stack of trade notes when used instead of 100 individual trade notes.
Statues of Forgetfulness & Enlightenment now accept Void Magic skill gems.
Augmentation NPCs should now accept Aug gem of Innate Renewal in exchange for their own associated Aug gem.
Mosswart Townsfolk are now attackable creatures again.
Spring has arrived and so have the baby creatures.
Society Guards at Freebooter Fort & North Watch Castle will no longer attack neutral players or monsters.
Gearknight and Empyrean characters should no longer notice a delay when entering portals or a change in location after they stop moving
Earthbound Empyreans should no longer have mobility issues.
Master Craftsman Takahume, in Xarabydun, has finally stopped tinkering with Atamarr, the Gold Gear Primus.
Kor Gursha Mushroom cutter no longer asks you if you're sure you want him to cut up.
So these are just some of the things we have in store for Asheron's Call in April. Please remember that along with everything listed here, there are several new quests and exciting things going into the game for the April Event.