Tearfall Ruin. The name evokes such wonderful images, doesn't it? A family picnic by a serene lake. Ducks, quacking as they teasingly try and steal your food. Or perhaps a day at the beach? Sitting in the afternoon sun while your ice cream melts all over your fingers. Or maybe just a quiet walk in the woods at sunset. Crickets chirping. The quiet call of birds settling down for the night. The slight rustle of the grass against your legs, the gentle sighing of the tree branches as they sway slowly in the warm, day-end breeze.
No. Don't be silly. Tearfall Ruin is a place of death. Death with a capital D. Reanimated corpses wander through the dank, fecund forest. Giants stampede through the woods, killing everything within sight. And fire rifts pop out of the aether with worrying regularity.
Caedryn loves it.
So the camp at Tearfall Ruin is quite small, a tiny huddle of frightened Guardians trying their best to fight off the encroaching darkness. Caedryn struts in, holds his hands in the air, and says, “Hey! Hey, it’s all right now! Everything is now cool. Everything from here on in will be better. Because I am here. You dig?” (If you will remember, way back in the first article, I decided that Caedryn would talk with Samuel L. Jackson’s voice. Because that makes everything he says automatically cooler.)
The folk at the camp line up to beg for Caedryn’s help. The first quest he is given comes from Laria. (Actually, she doesn’t queue up, because Caedryn has to summon her first. But still.)
Laria wants Caedryn to travel deeper into the woods and find the Mathosian Mill. Once there I am to destroy the walking remains of a fellow called Bloody Jack. Now I’m guessing from that kind of name that he’s not a children’s entertainer. (Although you never know.) Oh, hang on. Laria actually gives me a bit of a history on this guy.
“When the Ward fractured, the power of Regulos caused many atrocities whose evil still lingers, sapping my vitality. In the Mathosian Mill, a logger named Jack Rens slaughtered his fellows, binding them to the Death God. Bloody Jack yet remains - an evil that must be cleaned.”
So, not a children’s entertainer then. But a lumberjack. Off I go then, battling my way through the reanimated corpses with my trusty sidekick Fido. This is actually part of another quest I am given back at the camp. Arthur Roames wants me to destroy the Reanimated Corpses around the Mill. He’s wondering if these guys are the product of the Endless Court’s influence in the forest, of if they were created decades ago by the fracturing of the Ward, and he's hoping I will be able to find out the truth.
I kill the Reanimated Corpses and arrive at the mill. It’s a tough fight to get inside, but Caedryn makes it, sneaking up the ramp to confront Bloody Jack. He’s not much to look at, and Caedryn cleaves him in twain much like the Hound did to that guy he fought in Game of Thrones a couple of weeks ago.
So, with that taken care of, Caedryn heads back out, and finishes up a quest he was given by Fiona Leone. She wanted me to collect Necrotic Fragments from the Shademarked Skeletons wandering around. (Say that ten times fast.) She says that the siltreaver glands that I collected for her a couple of weeks ago are resistant to death magic and she wants to test them as a protective spell reagent. Only thing is, she needs samples of death energy to test them on. Yeah, OK. Makes sense. I suppose.
I collect what she heeds and head back to Tearfall Ruin, where Fiona is delighted with my progress. In fact, she wants me to “work with her on a more permanent basis”. Yeah, you and everyone else in Telara, lady. Caedryn works alone. He’s a drifter, a lone wolf. A solo player in this game of life. (Except when he can’t defeat the bad guys and then he’s a team player through and through.)
But mostly, a lone wolf.
Technically, a loner. What? No, not loser. Loner.
I digress. Fiona then shyly asks Caedryn if he would like to activate her Death Shield. Caedryn puzzles this out for a while before suddenly realizing it wasn’t some sort of euphemism. Fiona really does want him to activate a Death Shield. As she says, when Caedryn stops looking confused. “I think I have finally figured out a way to repel magic from the Death Plane. This Death Shield is made from the materials you have brought me, in addition to other reagents. Would you like the honor of testing it out?”
Sure. Caedryn can do that. He takes it into the center of the camp and activates it, starting off a pretty light show that surrounds the camp. Everyone cheers, and then everyone dies.
Not quite. That was just for drama. But when the shield switches off, the camp is attacked by werewolves! Caedryn launches into the fight along with the other guards, and they kill them all.
Once done, everyone turns accusing stares to Fiona.
“Er…” she says. “What just happened there? Did death energy get through the shield and corrupt that villager?”
Well why don’t you tell us, Miss I’m-a-genius?
“Obviously, the ritual isn't perfect yet. I'll return to my studies and see if I can figure out what went wrong.”
But the appearance of the werewolves has jogged something in the mind of Brother Jebiah. He summons me over and gives me a quest.
Next week: The Curse of the Werewolf!