Our old friend Molein, a dredge I first encountered in Sorrow’s Furnace asked us for more help in Umbral Grotto. The enslaved dredge are being put to work by the Stone Summit for something sinister. The Stone Summit saw an opportunity to reach a lich and harness its power after the recent earthquakes opened the way to its crypt. Malory and I headed into the Vloxen Excavations to put an end to the Stone Summit’s plans and free the dredge.
Stepping into the depths of Tyria, I surveyed the area. This dark section of the depths was warm, moist, filled with overgrowth, and of course crawling with vicious monsters.
Speaking of overgrowths, some of the first foes we encountered were aggressive plants and fungi. Whilst fighting, they release oversized spores which, when attacked, can explode and create more fungi. So it became important to call targets and kill everything quickly.
The atmosphere is very humid to the point where it weighs down on you. I didn’t mind it so much, because it is good for my skin, but Malory complained about the sweat under his leather. On the positive side, I am sure this climate is responsible for this beautiful lush environment.
Just like in the Ooze Pit, rolling rocks are a hazard. You can hear their enormous rumble before you see them, so it’s not hard to move out of the way before they flatten you.
With all of the beautiful scenery of this vibrant cavern, not even the enemies could get my spirits down. Just hearing the tranquil sound of a waterfall eases my mind.
Deep into this first cave, we encountered the initial Stone Summit forces. With careful positioning, we were able to kill them swiftly, leaving their leader Taskmaster Durgon defenseless. Afterwards I took a few moments to gaze at the vegetation on the ceiling.
Delving deeper, we came across groups of dredge fighting their Stone Summit masters throughout the area. We stepped in to help the dredge whenever we could and healed their wounds afterwards. I’m glad that the dredge are willing to stand up for themselves (with a bit of help). Hopefully in the future they can create a large enough community to fend off the Stone Summit or other oppressors.
Like a typical dwarven area, some doors could only be opened by placing a master gear inside a gearbox. To me it seems like a lot of hassle just to keep a door closed, but I’m sure the dwarves and asurans love this sort of mechanical solution.
A group of panicked dwarves ran past us at one point, screaming that Xalnax was back. Traveling in the direction they were running from, we found a huge spider and several smaller ones. I’m sure the dwarves either tried to enslave and ride the spider, or met resistance while trying to dig further into the cavern. I only wanted to see what the fuss was about, but it was a particularly blood thirsty spider and we had to fight it.
Returning to our mission, we continued to kill taskmasters and free all the dredge. The Stone Summit are not your typical enemies. They can resurrect fallen allies and strategically target our weaker party members. But I’m used to their tactics, so I came prepared.
One of the dredge we spoke too told us that the dwarves were not just excavating this place for materials. Their true intention was to reach a malignant force named Zoldark that rests much deeper in the earth. And if we could get some powder kegs, we could quickly blast our way to him. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out this means we have to kill some evil lord. Anyway, we had to be very careful while getting the powder kegs because the storage area had lit candles everywhere. What kind of idiot would leave something explosive near so much fire?!
After blasting our way through a cracked wall, we battled with Zoldark’s undead minions. As I took a moment after the fight to update my journal, their skeletal remains reassembled and attacked us again.
Passing into the third cavern, Malory felt the distinct presence of a necromancer’s magic. He described it as a deep, sickening feeling that can at times feel like someone is sucking your life essence.
Besides all the undead we had to fight, I found a few interesting objects. The first is this platform projecting a beam of light, which is keeping a stone suspended in the air. Without knowing what could happen if we remove it, I left it alone and continued on.
The other object of interest was this large golden plate engraved with mysterious symbols. It’s meaning was lost to us, but I took a few moments to take a picture and draw a few examples in my journal.
With no where else to explore, we confronted Zoldark the Unholy and his seemingly endless army of minions. The trick to this enemy is to keep killing off his minions because he looses a bit of health each time he summons more of them. So when the undead lord began to look a bit more decrepit, we focused our attacks on him and struck the fatal blow.
After the battle, we caught our breath and looked at the lovely stained glass art in his chamber. Then Malory and I collected our loot, reported back to Molein in Umbral Grotto, and went our separate ways.
Prized Spoils: 7 golden items
Outposts: Umbral Grotto, Vlox’s Falls
Friends: Malory K.