Aug 062012

Tyria contains many dangers and challenges for adventurers to seek and overcome. But the Mists present a whole new level of difficulty. Two such challenges; the Fissure of Woe and the Underworld,  have a steep barrier of entry. Your party of adventurers must be deemed worthy by either the god Balthazar or Grenth to enter their realms (the Fissure of Woe and the Underworld respectively). In addition to this requirement, they provide very little information on what you’ll encounter, and the challenges you overcome do not effect Tyria.

Access to these challenges can be found on every continent. The Temple of Ages in Kryta, Lornar’s Pass in the Shiverpeaks (Underworld only), Zin Ku Corridor in Kaineng City, the Chantry of Secrets in Vabbi, and finally via the appropriate scroll in Embark Beach.

I was fortunate enough to find several adventurers that were willing to explore the Fissure of Woe. Elwin L., Heet K., and Rogoth I. all met Balthazar’s requirements of entry, and we recruited several other heroes from Tyria to join us.

As we entered the Fissure of Woe, a ghostly warrior named Rastigan the Eternal informed us of the situation in this realm. Balthazar’s half-brother Menzies has invaded the Fissure of Woe with his Shadow Army. This war has pushed Rastigan out of the Tower of Courage, and our test is to help Rastigan reclaim it.

Fighting our way to the Tower of Courage was easy enough, but it did require a lot of teamwork. Rastigan raised the gates of his tower and we killed off the last of the Shadow Army infestation. Once inside, he gave us information on the tests ahead of us. Asking if we could leave and prepare for each test, Rastigan laughed at our faces. The god Balthazar would not permit this; we had to endure all 11 challenges without leaving his realm even once.

Just to make sure our efforts to keep the Shadow Army out of the Tower of Courage were not meaningless, I surveyed the area. Waiting a few minutes, we did not encounter any new threats. However the sight of two long lines, reaching out beyond the sky intrigued us.

Bleak environment around the Tower of Courage transitioned into the site of a large battlefield. Bones could be found everywhere, and sometimes we’d encounter skeletal creatures that would attack us.

Among the casualties of war, we noticed two such unlucky warriors. One had just delivered the final below, before being impaled by a spear. Our monk Heet K., carefully looked for any clues or information left on the undead warriors, but couldn’t find any.

It wasn’t long before we met with more of Balthazar’s champions; the Eternal Weaponmaster and Kromril the Eternal. Each of them had more tests for us to overcome. The first was to liberate the Eternal Forgemaster, and the second was to kill the priest of Menzies. We decided to help the forge master first and headed towards the Temple of War where he resides.

Those two long lines we first saw in the distance turned out to be long chains attached to the Temple of War. The question of what the chains are attached to crossed my mind. But because this is the realm of Balthazar, and not like our natural world of Tyria, I simply accepted the answer of “it’s magic.”

Menzies Shadow Army focused a great deal of attention on the Temple of War. Whereas several groups of them were stationed at the Temple of Courage, there felt like an inexhaustible supply here. The Shadow Army’s strength lies in their diversity. In Menzies resistance, we encountered creatures that used a full range of skills and spells that adventurers employ, such as a Shadow Priest that uses a monk’s healing prayers, or an Abyssal which hits you hard like a hammer warrior.

Eventually we reached the top of the mound and after the last of the shadow rangers and beasts were destroyed, the Eternal Forgemaster appeared. But our test was not finished. We had to defend his station against the onslaught of more shadow fiends. After that, we learned that the Shadow Army corrupted his forge. It was important to the Eternal Forgemaster that we cleanse the passages below, not just to craft armor for us, but to supply the gods with arms and armor as well.

On our way to kill the source of corruption affecting the fires underneath the forge, we found a fellow mortal in the Mists, Nimros the Hunter. Apparently aided by no gods, and by his own skill, he has a managed to survive here and kill seven shard wolves on his first day. I doubted his story, but we agreed to take on his challenge of killing seven more shard wolves to prove our might.

Seeds of Corruption placed by Menzies Shadow Army were well protected in a cave filled with spiders. After each seed was killed, we’d step forward and spiders would drop from the ceiling and surround us. A task that would normally take five minutes to do, soon dragged on for what seemed like forever.

To the right of where the spider cave begins, there is a large grate covering a tunnel that leads to the Temple of War. It’s easy to see now how the seeds continue to spread their corruption to the forge.

Following the Seeds of Corruption down the green and murky corridor, just beyond a waterfall, we spotted a beach.

An active volcano in the distance gave us some pause. Balthazar’s test would have to be abandoned if the volcano suddenly erupted. We decided to carry on, but keep an eye on it’s activity in the event that we’d have to leave quickly.

A shard wolf was found among the other monsters located on the beach. We killed it and continued to scour the area for other leads.

Unlike the other eternal warriors, Admiral Saidon was not tasked by Balthazar to give us (yet) another test. We were unsure of his purpose here. One speculation among our group was that he patrolled the beach and served as a lookout for Menzies forces beyond the shoreline.

One of Balthazar’s own temple guards, Lord Khobay (who served for 300 years) betrayed the Eternal Forgemaster and allowed the Shadow Army to overtake the Temple of War. He apparently fled deep into the Lake of Fire while we were approaching the temple. The forge master bade we go after him. As fleshy creatures, our group was not looking forward to this next test. When we arrived at the entrance to the Lake of Fire, we were bombarded by the many siege wurms that protected the path to Khobay.

From the beach we only spotted one volcano, but in the Lake of Fire we spotted several more. They were all active, but none seemed about ready to completely burst.

Adjusting to the hazardous area, I found the hellish landscape to be quite beautiful. This section of slow moving lava was mesmerizing.

As expected, Lord Khobay and his small band of ghostly followers were hiding out in the deepest corner of the Lake of Fire. It was not the riskiest of the tests, but certainly one meant to settle a score and appease Balthazar nonetheless.

Returning to the Eternal Forgemaster with good news, we were soon given another task by another one of Balthazar’s eternal warriors. Standing guard on the lower level of the Tower of War, Eternal Lord Taeres gave us a new challenge that would send us to reclaim their Temple of Strength. The task itself was not difficult, and once we cleared a path to the temple,  Balthazar’s tower mage came to open the temple gates. A single shadow monster attacked us within the temple, which was easily killed.

The hunt for shard wolves led us to the Burning Forest. Here on the edge of the forest, we spoke with Miko the Unchained, a slave who fled from the oppression of Menzies’ Shadow Army. He begged us to kill the Shadow Overlords at the end of the Burning Forest. They used ghostly slaves to harvest and transport material used in forging weapons for Menzies’ army.

Shadow Overlords and their minions were at the far end of the Burning Forest by a windmill. Unfortunately, after killing them, only one slave could be freed. Miko seemed happy with the death of the overlords, but I had hoped to rescue more of his fellow slaves.

Coming full circle to the Great Battlefield, two dragon liches guarded the priest of Menzies that Kromril the Eternal wanted us to slay. The priest itself wasn’t our primary goal. We were asked to obtain the unholy text the priest carried. Doubting that we could simply ask for the tome, we had to carve our way through the dragon liches and the priest of Menzies’ army to get it.

Menzies should have placed more soldiers along with his priest, because we were met with very little resistance. We delivered the tome to Kromril the Eternal, but I doubt he’ll discover much from the text. A god would be stupid to leave anything of importance out here for adventurers to stumble over.

Continuing north, we entered the Wailing Lord’s Forest. Besides the ghost it is name after, the forest is filled with spiders, large worms, vicious plant creatures, skeletons, and one shard wolf.

In a corner of the forest we found an unattended campfire and some caravan wagons. Rastigan mentioned that Balthazar’s Eternals were attacked in the forest while gathering materials for their war. Perhaps they abandoned this campsite for this reason.

Rastigan was quite clear that we would fail Balthazar’s test if we killed the Wailing Lord. But in order to force the lord into helping us, we needed to kill the banshees that serve him.

With some planning and careful maneuvering, we were able to separate the banshees and skeletons without harming the Wailing Lord. Completely unguarded, he was at our mercy and finally agreed to ally with the Eternals. To show Balthazar his allegiance, he wanted us to deliver three ghostly forest griffons to be used as beasts of war.

Having the honor to deliver such a gift was a tremendous responsibility. We would surely fail the test if any harm were to come to the griffons. So prior to taking the Wailing Lord up on his offer, we made sure to meticulously clear the path of any foes. Then, with great haste, we escorted the forest griffons to Rastigan the Eternal. As we left his Temple of Courage we spotted the last shard wolf that Nimros tasked us with killing. We finally passed each test asked of us, and headed for the Temple of War to claim our prize.

Balthazar was most generous and allowed each of us to pull several items out of his treasure chest. Elwin, Heet, Rogoth and I celebrated our victory before leaving the Mists. It felt amazing to overcome the challenges asked of us by the god of war, but it made me wonder what Grenth has in store for us.

Prized Spoils: 5 golden items, obsidian shard, onyx gem, obsidian key, scroll to the Fissure of Woe
Friends: Elwin L., Heet K., Rogoth I.