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Hunting the Beast

Paul Crilley Posted:
Columns Chronicles of One Telaran 0

Greetings everyone. It seems that Phase 3 of War of the Wanton Maw is still going on, so all we can do is carry on trying to close down Earth and Fire Rifts until the Guardian and Defiant spies finally figure out the exact plans of the Dragon Cult Alliance. So while he’s waiting, Caedryn carries on with his quests in Gloamwood Pines.

The first of these sees Caedryn traveling to Greybriar Hollow at the behest of Drusk Nightclaw. (Cool name, bro.) Scouts have discovered evidence of a “brutishly large” barghest in a cave in the area, and the creature and its pack are coming out every night to attack the unwary. Cue spooky music and atmospheric mist as Caedryn attempts to solve the mystery of this supposed beast. He has his theories all lined up. It’s not actually a beast at all. It’s someone dressing up as a beast to commit murders, and Caedryn will gather all the suspects in a drawing room of a well-to-do local family and identify the killer. And it will be the butler.

It's a bit nipply up here.

Unfortunately it doesn’t turn out like that, and the family whose house Caedryn invited himself into for the denouement is a bit confused. And annoyed. Especially when their butler happens to be 80 years old with arthritis and cataracts.

So it turns out the beast story is true and Caedryn must repress his ambitions of being something more than a really, really, ridiculously good-looking fighter and do what he does best. Kill and maim.

Hunting time!

He makes his way through the network of caves and finally confronts his nemesis before putting him down. Permanently. As a one-liner Caedryn will admit it is not one of his best, but the alternatives were, “Time to get spayed. In the HEAD!”, and “You need to visit the vet! Oh wait, too late. Because you’re DEAD!”, and “Who’s been a naughty boy then? You have! Haven’t you Yes you have. Now DIE!”  So as you can see it's the best of a bad bunch.

After that, Caedryn is back to dealing with the goblin menace. They’re seriously getting everywhere in Gloamwood. My first task is to find out why the naughty creatures have taken such an interest in the nearby Standing Stones. As Laenaya Niro says, “If the goblins aren't repelled, this ancient forest will be nothing but ash and blood. The Nightrock Goblins have taken an interest in the Standing Stones. To discover what they're planning, bring me some of the Dark Rocks they've been gathering.”

Ooh. There's a bit of a draft coming from somewhere.

Sure thing. I head off to the rather impressive standing stones, where Caedryn feels a little awed and dwarfed by the massive structure. (Dwarfed. Get it? Haha. I slay me.) He does his thing and gathers the Dark Rocks from the goblins' blood-stained, lifeless hands. He hands them over to Laenaya, who vows to study them to see if they have any special properties.  In the meantime, she says, can I travel into the Grove of the Ancients and collect Drops of Treant Sap form the Barkeater Goblins. Apparently, the Barkeater Goblins are killing treants and ripping them to pieces, dragging the pieces down into the Deeps. Laenaya wants to know why.

Caedryn yawns. Sure. Give me five minutes. He heads off into the grove of the Ancients and casually murders a few Barkeater Goblins. Not much of a challenge to the mighty Caedryn, but he accomplishes his task and takes the sap back to Laenaya, who thinks it might be an ingredient for some foul poison or something.

I slip away before she asks me to go on another goblin-hunting expedition, and head up to the altar in the forest, where the spirit Laria wants me to kill Blackroot Treants. Caedryn despairs. He really does. What is it with these people? It’s just murder, murder, murder! When will the cycle stop. Don’t they know that hurt people hurt people? What are we doing to ourselves?

Ahem. Existential crisis over, Caedryn listens to what he has to do. “When the rifts first struck, magic from Regulos, from the Death Plane, infected the pines, twisting them into hate-filled treants. I remember little else. To free my memories, you must slay the Blackroot Treants and cleanse the trees of this sickness.”

Sigh. Fine.

Caedryn ventures into the forest and kills any Blackroot Treants he can find. When he returns to Laria with the news, she is quite pleased. “Ridding the forest of the Blackroot Treants worked. I can now remember the Death Rift - servants of Regulos poured forth, killing man, treant, and goblin alike. We were defeated so effortlessly. I failed to protect myself or anyone else from the destruction.” She then gets all martyr-like. “I'm unable to help you further. My power is limited, and it is time for you to return to Gwyddon Duskenleaf and tell him what you have learned. Take this locket. Inside is the essence of the Amorian Root, just enough to continue your hunt through the past.”

I head back into town and hand the locket over. Gwyddon tells me his own locket passed down through generations and that the locket I now possess might unlock the secrets of the past.  He wants me to search out another altar in the forest. Maybe there will be answers there.

Behind me? What do you mean?

But in the meantime, I’m off to seal some Rifts. Got to do my part, don’t-you-know. Maybe next week we’ll know what’s been going on with the Wanton Maw.


Paul Crilley