Story Journal/End of Dragons
I was beckoned to the Eye of the North by Aurene. Recently, she's felt a presence in the invisible web of ley energy—"like an echo in the Mists." Navigating the prophetic visions she inherited from Kralkatorrik, Aurene's concluded that all possible timelines converge into a singular event she can't see past—an event that will happen today. Ominous—given the last time this happened it ended with Aurene's death—but she seems surprisingly...relaxed. Am I wrong to worry?
Whatever awaits us somehow involves Taimi and Gorrik. Gorrik's meeting with an old colleague from the Inquest (no comment) who Taimi has...thoughts on. She's asked me to accompany Gorrik at Lornar's pass and protect him. Or his virtue. Wasn't clear on that. Whether this is the anxious plea of a jealous heart or if Gorrik's in real danger, I can't say for certain. Somehow this all leads to Aurene's "convergence of timelines," so I have no choice but to do as Taimi asks and see what happens.
I made my way to Lornar's Pass, where Gorrik and I met his "friend" Ankka together. Gorrik said his former colleague had important dragon research to share. Ankka was initially affable, ever—day I say—charming? Gorrik can have trouble expressing his emotions, but he was genuinely happy to see his old friend. However, Ankka's disposition turned dark when Gorrik brought up the topic of dragons.
She suddenly revealed herself to be an Aetherblade and snatched Gorrik right in front of me. I should've seen it coming! Aurene and I will be going after the Aetherblade fleet together. I have my concerns over Aurene's direct involvement, given the event singularity we discussed, but retrieving Gorrik safely is the top priority right now.
The Aetherblades are back. I boarded one of their ships as Aurene and I split up to search for Gorrik. The fleet entered a portal into the Mists; where they're heading, I can't say. It seems the 'Blades have a bone to pick with me after our confrontation in the fractals. I briefly encountered Captain Mai Trin herself, but she fled when Aurene appeared. An Aetherblade lured me into an ambush, but I fought my way out. Wherever they're keeping Gorrik. I'll find him.
The fleet exited the Mists to somewhere unknown. Somewhere outside of Taimi's comms range. I found Gorrik at last, tied up and in the process of being questioned. Ankka bombarded our ship with cannon fire, so we fled to the ship's deck. We almost escaped with Aurene, but she was hit by a new Aetherblade weapon. The ship went down as Aurene fell from the sky and...my memory is hazy. I'm in a bad way, washed up on a beach somewhere; recording this in case anyone from Dragon's Watch finds it. My eyes feel heavy...I need to rest...
I awoke in a jail cell with Gorrik, attached to some kind of machine that seemed as advanced as asuran technology- maybe even more so. Gorrik was elated to see me, but he had a bit of an anxiety meltdown- I feel bad I'd been unable to keep him company due to my, well, lack of consciousness. Before he could elucidate where we were, a detective by the name of Rama let us out. He made us fill out some paperwork and returned my equipment before dropping a bombshell: we had landed in Cantha, the human empire that sealed itself off from the world long before I was even born.
I could barely wrap my head around it as I followed Rama to a courtyard. Marjory and Kasmeer were waiting for us- what a feeling to see friends at a time like this! Kasmeer- now a Krytan ambassador - explained that Cantha reopened its borders after our ship went down. She assured me that Aurene was okay and I would see her soon.
Before I could be officially released, I spoke with the Canthan Minister of Security, Li. He was polite, but there was distrust in his voice. I don't blame the Canthans for their caution. There's a lot to catch up on, and I'm eager to explore Shing Jea- a place that, up until now, might well have been legend.
- 1335 AE / 1845 CC
Finally released from prison, I was free to explore Cantha. I met with Detective Rama at the training grounds to prove I'd be able to survive on my own, and after a short- but chatty- boat ride, I joined up with my friends to check on Aurene.
Aurene was still exhausted from our encounter with the Aetherblades- the weapon they used somehow drained her magic! I caught her a fish to snack on in the hopes of cheering her up a bit, but seeing her like this...well, it was a harsh reminder that we don't have the faintest idea what the Aetherblades are capable of. Rama told me I'd need permission from Empress Ihn to investigate them. There is no time to waste; luckily, Kas already has a meeting on the books.
The meeting with the empress was dominated by verbal sniping between Madam Joon, the apparent creator of jade tech, and Minister Li. There is much about Canthan politics I don't yet understand, but as far as I could tell, Li believes Joon put Cantha's security at risk for the sake of expanding the market for her technology. Joon believes Li is too closed-minded.
Kasmeer is quickly growing into her new role as an ambassador. Even among all that heated debate, we were able to secure permission from the empress to investigate the Aetherblades. I also had the opportunity to meet Joon face-to-face afterward- she's incredibly knowledgeable. Unsurprisingly, she and Taimi bonded quickly. Joon expressed an interest in helping treat Aurene, which...well, it seems a little soon to trust a stranger with that. Perhaps we'll revisit the matter once the Aetherblade situation is handled.
Note to self: however novel our communications tech is back home, Canthans find it laughably insecure. Rama was more than happy to demonstrate this by jumping into our call as we planned our Aetherblade investigation. But he also gave me permission to review the MinSec archives, which contained some useful information, so I won't hold it against him too much. (Taimi might.)
I decided to search the downed Aetherblade flagship with Marjory and Gorrik. There, I found logs covering Mai Trin and her pirates' activities since their attack on Lion's Arch. Their time in the Mists sounds traumatic, to say the least- they had to kill Fractal echoes of themselves to rebuild their fleet, then barely made it to Cantha after an encounter with Kralkatorrik. Ankka spoke of a restlessness in the crew- a desire to stop lying low and "do something." Well, they're certainly doing something now.
Gorrik and Marjory managed to corner one of the 'Blades who had been working to repair the flagship's Mist-traversal tech. The pirate vaguely spoke of big changes and big plans, but was otherwise unhelpful. At least Gorrik was able to smash the traversal tech to pieces. The Aetherblades won't be escaping any time soon.
Just then Taimi called, asking that I return to Aurene's cave immediately. The rest of our group was already there, along with- to my surprise- Lady Joon. Caithe and Aurene had become unresponsive, and no one knew why. Well, it didn't take me long to find out.
As I approached Aurene, I felt as if my spirit was pulled into another world. A place like the bottom of the ocean, but also not- at the time, I wondered if it was real. It was then that I heard it: the voice of the final Elder Dragon, Soo-Won. Just...calmly talking to Aurene.
As abruptly as it began, it ended, and we were back in the real world. It was then I learned Soo-Won is not only the final Elder Dragon, but the original Elder Dragon- the "Mother" Kralkatorrik referred to all those years ago. She's been in Cantha the whole time- and according to Joon, she's been protecting the people here! Soo-Won says she wants Aurene to take her place and become the only Elder Dragon, just as Soo-Won once was. To be honest, I'm still not sure how I feel about it all. Or if I can trust her.
The revelations didn't end with the dragons. As we turned our attention back to the Aetherblades, Joon confessed that she was the one who had hired them! Joon had recruited Mai Trin years ago, not knowing the pirate's history, and thought she could do good. Well, we see how that turned out- Joon's request for research from outside Cantha turned into a kidnapping. Joon gave us an approximate location to track down Mai Trin- Zen Daijun- and Jory and Gorrik went ahead to scout the area. It's time to make Mai Trin pay for her crimes.
I met up with Gorrik and Marjory in Zen Daijun. They'd both picked up strange ultrasonic frequencies emanating from the area and were investigating them- suspecting they might be linked to the Aetherblades somehow. Their suspicions ended up being correct. The cave was hiding a secret enterance to an Aetherblade hideout! I contacted Taimi to report our finding, and Joon, overhearing us, immediately began making a beeline to our location. She was itching for the chance to finally bring Mai Trin to justice, and honestly, I can't say I blamed her...
We explored the den and encountered Ivan, who remained loyal to Mai Trin and refused to tell us her whereabouts. He insisted that things aren't as they seem and begged us not to hurt Mai Trin. After a quick scuffle, we overpowered him.
Eventually we stumbled upon Mai Trin. Well, actually...she did the stumbling. She was very drunk. Joon and Kasmeer arrived, and we tried grilling the captain about her plans, but talks immediately broke down. To our shock, Mai Trin began channeling the power of the Mists, like a revenant! And even worse, she called upon the power of our old foe- Scarlet Briar!
Naturally, Scarlet's echo was much too strong (and crazy) for Mai Trin to handle, and she began running wild- leading to a desperate struggle that we all barely survived.
With Scarlet's echo brought back under control, we apprehended Mai Trin and relieved her of her weapons. She was still overwhelmed by the voices from the Mists and having trouble tuning them out, so Kasmeer suggested dampening her sense of sight to help her focus- not unlike Rytlock. After fashioning a makeshift blindfold for her, we demanded that Mai Trin divulge her orders to the Aetherblades. Not only did she reveal they're planning to attack a jade processing facility, but also they're no longer under her command. Apparently Ankka staged a mutiny and took all of her ships and crew.
We doubled back and untied Ivan- Trin was genuinely surprised he hadn't abandoned her. He suggested that we locate Ankka using the ships' transponders. A solid idea, but unfortunately Renyak seemingly damaged the transponders, resulting in the tracking data being imprecise. All we could glean was that we needed to go to New Kaineng. Not a lot to work with, but it was something. Mai Trin offered to help us in our hunt (perhaps out of guilt). We begrudgingly accepted, though Joon didn't seem too thrilled about it. Before departing for New Kaineng, it was decided that I should secure a permit from the Ministry of Transit first...lest I be arrested for violating travel laws.
I rendezvoused with Lady Kasmeer and Navan in Shing Jea, where we briefly discussed Mai Trin's trustworthiness. Kasmeer was still wary of her, but felt she was our best chance of catching Ankka.
The Ministry of Transit was a bureaucratic nightmare to which I wouldn't subject even my worst enemy. While waiting for my travel papers to clear, I opted to kill time by helping out around the island. Rama, grateful for the assistance, pulled some strings and got my paperwork expedited.
With everything in order, I was ready to set sail. Navan had some last-minute business to tend to in New Kaineng, so I swung by and picked her up before heading out.
New Kaineng City was truly a sight to behold. We met up with Marjory and Mai Trin at the docks. Navan split off to go handle her affairs while Marjory and I escorted Mai Trin to a nearby noodle stand. She had quite the hangover, and we deemed it best to feed her before putting her in front of people.
Things got a little awkward on the way there. Mai tried to apologize for her actions and build some sort of rapport, but Marjory wasn't having any of it. Trust is earned through action, not words.
Suddenly, distressed screams—a nearby loader mech had gone haywire. We neutralized it, and a jade-tech engineer arrived on the scene to assess the situation. The engineer's name was Yao, and according to them, these jade tech malfunctions had become more and more of a common occurrence in the past year. As if on cue, the jade spiders accompanying Yao started running amok as well—seemingly infected by the loader.
After the battle, Yao gave me a jade bot of my own. (I hope it works better than the ones we beat.)
As we planned our next course of action over comms, it became clear there was some bad history between Mai Trin and Yao. Yao seemed to resent Mai for being chosen as Joon's protégé, believing themselves to be much more qualified.
I acquired the power plant's passcode from the lead engineer and, after I acclimated myself to my jade bot's many uses and functions, we were ready to investigate the city's energy infrastructure. Mai apologized to Yao for the past enmity between them. She'll be doing a lot of apologizing to people from now on, I think.
Taimi finally managed to encrypt our comms network, just as we started poking around the power plant. According to her, Joon had always been tight-lipped when it came to the exact details of charging jade batteries. If we wanted a better understanding of how they worked, it was all on us. I picked up an energy scanner and began sending data samples for Taimi to analyze.
A power spike complicated the data collection process, because of course it did. A simple, straightforward task with zero wrinkles would be boring. As we reset junction boxes and scanned batteries, Mai noted that these jade tech malfunctions didn't seem like Ankka's style. She was all about carrying out Scarlet's ideals of "democratization through chaos," and corporate sabotage didn't really align with that.
Taimi compiled all of the data, and her analysis yielded a truly shocking discovery.
Jade tech is powered by dragon magic.
Taimi patched Yao into our comms frequency, reported our findings, and requested access to Nahpui Lab. We needed to build a broader data set immediately. Unfortunately, according to Yao, the power spikes from earlier scrambled Nahpui's security system, so it was a no-go until they came back onine.
Fortunately, we didn't have to wait for that. Mai Trin had just the thing we needed (buried in her messy apartment): an imperial security badge. With it, we could bypass Kaineng lab security, even during a blackout.
She solemnly reflected on the badge being the only tangible proof of the trust Joon once afforded her.
Mai, Marjory, and I met up with Gorrik at Nahpui Lab. Taimi had told him everything. If jade tech's power cells were in fact using dragon magic, that would explain how they're being corrupted. We needed to scan more batteries. Now that Taimi knew what to look for, she could try isolating the energy signature to paint a clearer picture of what exactly we were dealing with. Mai Trin reiterated her doubts that Ankka was involved with whatever was happening to all the jade tech and batteries. There was no evidence that implicated her as the one responsible.
Taimi ran her scans on our newly collected data and the results were even more earth-shattering than the last. Not only were the batteries powered by dragon magic, but Joon had somehow cracked the mystery of producing pure dragon magic.
Suddenly, an ambush! The Aetherblades had broken through security and were blitzing the lab...but Ankka wasn't with them. This was a distraction. I told Taimi to find Joon immediately.
After the battle, we called Joon and confronted her. But before we could really grill her, Aurene chimed in. Apparently jade power wasn't solely Joon's idea—Soo-Won is being held in a top-secret facility, and she's allegedly cooperating with her on the whole endeavor to boot. That's why Ankka sent the distraction: she knew about Soo-Won somehow! Joon thought it prudent that we all meet face-to-face and told everyone to rendezvous with her at the reactor. I suggested Aurene hang back, in case Ankka showed up with the Extractor.
From the moment I stepped off the elevator, it was clear that Joon has invested an incredible amount of her wealth into the Yong Reactor, where she is housing the Elder Dragon Soo-Won. Despite her obvious pride in having built such a magnificent facility so far below the water's surface, the good Lady Joon couldn't be bothered to meet us there in person, instead showing us around via holographic projection. Joon assured us that her arrangement with Soo-Won was mutually beneficial and collaborative, a fact that I am still finding difficult to believe. Still, we're here, and we are preparing to see this arrangement for ourselves. I have to wonder: What is Soo-Won really like?
Walking among the towering pillars of jade batteries up close was breathtaking. As we neared the access point to Soo-Won's chamber, we overheard Lady Joon once more arguing with Minister Li via hologram, but the hostile nature of their dynamic was nothing compared to what happened next. As Joon went to open the access point for us, the many jade mechs that comprised the facility's autonomous security turned on us!
It was Mai Trin, of all people, who stepped in and "hacked" the security system, shutting down the mechs. There was no doubt now that Ankka was also inside the facility's network, making our goal of finding Soo-Won even more urgent. Unfortunately, the compromised security locked down the main access point and cut off our contact with Joon, so we're heading for an alternate entrance via the maintenance corridors.
After navigating the maintenance area through a series of energy shields using my handy jade bot, we were confronted suddenly by Ankka! Or rather, by a holographic projection of her. She taunted Mai Trin and Gorrik before disappearing again, but not before making it clear she was deeper in the facility than we were.
We bypassed the last of Joon's security, but the moment that Soo-Won was within sight I was pulled, again, into her mind. There, Soo-Won confirmed that she had sought out Joon and her technology to help her channel the magic of Tyria after the deaths of their children, the other Elder Dragons. In short: Soo-Won and this facility had been the only thing keeping the world together as the dragons died. She painted a grim picture but left me with the slim hope that Aurene could manage a new cycle, if we can prepare her to withstand the tidal wave of energy that Soo-Won's death would release.
My time with Soo-Won was cut short as I was pulled from her mind to discover Ankka confronting the Elder Dragon. Before any of us could react, Ankka unleashed the Extractor and filled the chamber with the raw power of Aurene's Brand magic! As the chamber filled with crystals and her harness was destroyed, Soo-Won was released, and we were forced to flee, with the chamber falling apart and the ocean pouring in.
As we made our way up from the chaos of Soo-Won's crumbling chamber, we learned that the combination of Aurene's uncontrolled magic and Soo-Won's explosive escape had sent the reactor into meltdown. It was up to us to fix it before the reactor exploded and took all of New Kaineng with it. But Ankka was determined to stop us, first sending her Aetherblades, then unleashing another surprise: that her own experiments with dragon magic allowed her to tap into Zhaitan's power, reviving the fallen Xunlai workers to tear us down.
With dozens of undead rising all around us, we located the control room and gained access. Mai Trin sealed herself in, preventing us from intervening as she went to stop the reactor from exploding. Marjory, Gorrik, and I fled the control center, only to witness the shocking scene as Ankka killed her former captain in cold blood—but not before Mai Trin was able to stop the reactor from catastrophic failure. Whoever she was before, Mai Trin sacrificed her life to save a city, and save us.
We arrived back in the lobby of the Yong Reactor and were greeted by the commanding voice of Captain Fa, the head of Xunlai Security, over the announcement system, and it did not sound as though there would be time or opportunity for us to establish our innocence. With Soo-Won loose out there, and her dire warnings about what would happen to Aurene if Ankka's plan came to fruition, we opted to make our way out of the facility in the emergency escape pods, quickly returning to the surface. I only hope that there's enough time for us to get to Soo-Won and stop all of this before the worst happens.
Having escaped from the Yong reactor, we all went our separate ways to help us evade capture. It seems we are being blamed for what Ankka did, and with Soo-Won on the loose, there's no time to stop and explain what happened.
Aurene set off on Soo-Won's trail with Caithe while I received a message from Navan hinting the empress is on our side- or at least hasn't made up her mind yet. Navan suggested we meet at a local sushi restaurant to discuss the situation further, so I will now meet her at "Nika's Blade" to see what she has to say. Hopefully the food is good.
When I arrived at the sushi restaurant, I found that Detective Rama had crashed our meeting. He was following orders from the Ministry of Security to bring us in for questioning, but Navan, acting as an extension of the empress, overrode those orders.
Navan suggested we retreat to a place of refuge in the Echovald Forest. Before we could finish our meeting, however, Captain Fa, Joon's head of security, arrived to take me into custody. I convinced Fa to let us go- for now- and Rama was similarly moved to let us prove our innocence. Not one to be left out of the action, however, he decided to come along, with the subtle threat that if he found any reason to think he'd been deceived, it would be back into a Shing Jea cellblock with me.
I reconnected with my allies at Navan's haven- a ruin called Arborstone, which once belonged to a Kurzick noble house known as the zu Heltzers. It was destroyed when they were wiped out by the Ministry of Purity many years ago but has been gradually restored since. It seems our detective is part Kurzick himself, and so the sight of the ruined great house was deeply affecting. The traumas left by the Ministry of Purity's actions still run deep in the people of Cantha.
On our way to the building, we were attacked by mysterious, shadowy creatures of unknown origin. Navan expected to find other travelers seeking refuge in Arborstone, as well as a guardian named Ishan, but instead all we found was death, destruction, and that same shadowy magic, which seems to alter the very rules of reality. The ways in which it killed the travelers were all deeply unsettling. Even with all the horrors we've seen, it shook the whole party. We are still looking for Ishan, but our hopes for finding Navan's friend in a suitable condition are growing thin.
We eventually found Ishan, but unfortunately he had been consumed by the same corrupting power, which we now know is called "the Void." Ishan was a saltspray dragon, and it turns out, so is Navan- Known as Kuunavang in her dragon form. After spending some time corrupted by Shiro Tagachi, she became a hero to the Canthan people, and ever since then she has remained in human form to continue to watch over them.
Kuunavang has been a longtime ally to Soo-Won and is now aiding us in our efforts to prevent the Void from consuming the Elder Dragon and spreading to the rest of Tyria. Joon's reactor had been working to stabilize Soo-Won by siphoning off corrupted magic, and our scientific minds think it is possible Ankka's Extractor could do the same. Ayumi of the Kestrels- a group of rangers tasked with protecting Echovald- offered to help us track down Ankka, who was last seen somewhere in the Echovald Wilds. They seem trustworthy enough.
If tracking down Ankka wasn't our top priority before, it sure as hell is now. Her Extractor might be the only way to pacify Soo-Won. We need to find her.
The Kestrels provided us with two leads: The first was a piece of Aetherblade tech they'd found in Echovald. The second was intel on Ankka's movements.
Gorrik believed the tech to be one of the airship transponders damaged by Renyak. With some time, he might be able to use it to help us. As for Ankka's movements, according to Ayumi, she'd been sending Aetherblades to talk with both the Speakers and the Jade Brotherhood/ What is she planning? I have to know.
While Aurene and Caithe worked to keep Soo-Won within the Jade Sea, the Kestrels helped me infiltrate the gang camps to learn more about Ankka's dealings. Apparently, she'd been negotiating with both sides before abruptly backing out. Why?
All became clear when we located the Aetherblades' camp. Ankka was long gone, but her audio logs remained. As it turned out, she was trying to build a Mist portal device, and both the Speakers and Brotherhood possessed parts that she needed. The reason she backed out of talks with them? Reports of a new Aetherblade ship that just arrived in the area- complete with a working portal device, according to their scans. Ankka no longer needed to build her own.
Using the newly repaired transponder, Gorrik was able to trace the airship's signal to Melandru's Hope. We need to beat Ankka there at all costs.
After some searching, we located the ship in a well-hidden cavern. Its owners- our old friends, Canach and Sayida! They've come to Cantha to start a new business venture: a social club / gourmet restraunt. I apprised them of our current situation with Ankka and offered them a proposal: let us use their ship as bait to draw Ankka out and, in return, we'll help them with the setup of their establishment.
We had an accord. The best place to lure Ankka is the Xunlai Jade Junkyard, at the center of Echovald. No bystanders will get caught in the crossfire there. Ivan, who has now pledged himself to our cause, sent out a false message to the Aetherblades' coms network.
This entire time, Ankka has been one step ahead of us. But not anymore. Our trap is set.
With Canach and Sayida's airship out in the open, it didn't take long for the Aetherblades to track us down. Cornering us with their own ships, they sent wave after wave of pirates to try to take it. Luckily, Ayumi had planned ahead: Kestrel snipers, hidden among the trees, got a drop on the 'Blades and took most of them out.
We isolated one of the Aetherblade lieutenants, and he was "willing" to spill everything we needed to know about Ankka's location. But before he could, Ankka turned all the fallen pirates into undead thralls. They descended on us, killing the lieutenant and overwhelming the Kestrels.
The good news is that once we cleared our airship of the dead, Gorrik was able to pinpoint the location of the Extractor—in the center of the Xunlai Jade Junkyard. We're on our way to it now.
The route to the junkyard was a twisted echo of Orr: littered with the bodies of fallen Kestrels and patrolled by Aetherblades who had been reduced to mindless Risen—a fate I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies. And there, waiting in the center of all that decay, was Ankka.
Ankka threw every horrifying trick she had at us, even unleashing Void energy from the nearby corrupted jade. As we fought, she made it clear she believes we're responsible for all this chaos—for the Void itself. That it's the natural end point of all our meddling and our hubris. I...can't say she's wrong. But her idea that we need to just accept the inevitable and let the world reset? I will never stand for that.
Ankka was defiant to her last breath, but that breath finally came. The Extractor is ours.
Or not. But...I'm getting ahead of myself.
Gorrik needed a moment to process Ankka's death—he's never experienced the hurt of betrayal like that before, and her death hadn't brought him the closure he sought. I told him only he could choose to heal that wound. He took my advice to heart—I'm proud of him, to be honest—and got to work analyzing the Extractor.
But Ankka had sabotaged it. Of course she had sabotaged it. The Extractor overloaded as soon as we activated it—sending us flying and leaving only wreckage behind. We're lucky no one was killed, but our plan of using the machine to purge Soo-Won's corruption is shot, and we're running out of time.
We have one hope left. We managed to recover a single piece of the Extractor—nothing that will work on its own, but solid evidence that Ankka was behind everything. With any luck, we can use that evidence to regain the trust of the Ministry of Security—and Joon—rebuild the device, and stop the Void before it's too late.
It's a long shot. But it's our last shot.
With newfound evidence proving my innocence, I met Rama at the East Precinct office with hopes of appealing to Li. Unfortunately, my plan was derailed, both by Li's absence and a less than cooperative precinct employee. After helping the precinct with some fieldwork on the streets of Kaineng, Rama's lifelong friend (and perhaps more?) Captain Min put us in touch with the Minister. Rama and I are back on track to speak with Li and put this misunderstanding to bed. The whole ordeal has made me increasingly grateful for those especially kindhearted citizens of Cantha, like Min and Rama. It's also made me very thankful my only work drama is dragon related.
At the Ministry of Security, Rama and I met with Li in an attempt to convince him of my innocence. I suspect that Li may be the only person in Cantha able to rattle Rama's cool composure. After presenting him with the evidence of Ankka's culpability, it seems Li has finally acknowledged the truth. More importantly, he's agreed to transport us to Joon's mansion so we can plead for her help containing the Soo-Won situation. For the first time in recent events, I feel hopeful for what is to come.
I should've known better than to be overly optimistic. Upon reaching the MinSec foortop to board our "transport" to Joon, Li ordered his Elite Guard to ambush me. Much to Li's outrage, Rama refused to allow this injustice to take place, and the two off us fought side-by-side to fend off the guards. Th situation became even graver when Captain Min arrived with some devastating news: Li was, in fact, a covert leader of the Purists. With the help of some quick thinking from Captain Min, Rama and I were able to take down the (not-so) Elite Guard and detain Li for his crimes.
I'm incredibly grateful for the courage and kindness Rama showed me, but I worry about his well-being, knowing that Li was his longtime mentor. I do feel a bit better knowing that he will be in the capable company of Captain Min during Li's detention process. Now, with one destructive force contained, I make my way to Joon's mansion to ask for her help in vanquishing another.
On my way to Joon's estate, I was unexpectedly pulled back into Soo-Won's mind. We were able to have a brief conversation, in which she stressed that when the time comes, we will have to kill her. But then everything changed. Her mind was filled with monsters, and she began to speak in the voice of the Void. It warned me of its inevitability- and then its minions attacked me. Thankfully, Caithe and Aurene arrived to help. They managed to hold the Void off long enough for me to escape. I had no choice but to leave them behind.
This meeting had better go as we hope. We're running out of time, and without Joon, there is no way we can reconstruct the Extractor in time.
I met Kasmeer outside Joon's estate, and then Taimi let us past the gate- in opposition with Joon's wishes, as we were about to find out. As we entered her estate, she appeared overhead, but not to negotiate- only to kick us out. She still blamed us for what happened at the reactor and refused to believe we were planning to do anything but further damage her life's work. After a brief exchange, she left, turning the mansion's security on us.
We searched the mansion for the means to disable that security, learning more about her along the way- from her humble beginnings to her many awards, to her role as a mother. A portrait of Joon emerged. Hopefully that greater understanding will help us finally say the right thing to convince her to return to our side.
Armed with this new understanding of Joon, we pushed on to the workshop, finally managing to gain access to her innermost sanctum.
When we reached Joon's lab, she had just received the news about Minister Li's arrest and his general involvement in recent events. That, combined with the piece of Ankka's Extractor, convinced her that we had nothing to do with her reactor melting down. We hoped that would be enough, and that we would be able to move forward at that point.
However, when it came time to discuss solutions, she refused to discuss any course of action that did not result in Soo-Won returning to the reactor, fearing the fallout that a lack of jade power would cause in Cantha, and we once again clashed. Fortunately, Taimi was finally able to reach her, reassuring her that we understood what her work means to Cantha, and that we were fully committed to and capable of finding a solution together. After she finally stood down, she and Taimi immediately began work on restoring the extractors.
Taimi and Joon began working on the new extractors while the rest of us agreed to meet and decide on a plan of attack. It's hard to know whether to trust Joon's sudden turn, but at this point we have no choice. Hopefully we have earned her tryst in both our intentions and abilities and can work together from here on out. Hope is unfortunately all we have right now. If Soo-Won manages to escape beyond the borders of Cantha, she will carry the Void with her and spread it everywhere. That cannot happen.
Everyone gathered at Arborstone—seeing the number of factions we had brought together was heartening. Ayumi came on behalf of the Kestrels, Ivan represented the reformed Aetherblades, and Detective Rama, well, he just came on his own. But it seems the Ministry of Security will back us up as well. Caithe relayed how pressed our forces are in the Jade Sea—we needed to act quickly, for their sake.
It was decided that Ayumi and Ivan would join Canach and Sayida in patrolling the coast, and the rest of us would head to the Jade Sea to arrange the newly completed extractors, helping in the fight as we were able.
We arrived in Jade Sea [sic] to find a true war zone. Caithe had not exaggerated their circumstances. Our troops were worn thin, and their frustrations mounted as every time someone managed to strike a Void beast down, another re-formed in its place.
But after more than a few battles, we got the extractors in place and then rendezvoused at the Harvest Temple. Our prospects are grim, but defeat is even grimmer. Either the Dragon Cycle ends today, or we do.
We successfully brought Soo-Won to the Harvest Temple and used the extractors to remove the Void from her body. Unfortunately, once the corrupted magic was out, it coalesced to form its own being and attacked us with its army. The Void's initial appearance created a shock wave that took the extractors off-line, but Taimi proposed that we could use them to contain some of the Void's power—provided we could get them back online.
As our other allies scattered to retake the outlying extractors from the Void's army, Kuunavang and I stayed to defend Taimi and Joon while they restored the primary extractor. The Void's forces overwhelmed us, and Kuunavang and I were momentarily overcome. Thankfully, Aurene pulled me from the jaws of death and infused me with some of her own power, which she instructed me to use to face the Void head-on. She didn't exaggerate its effectiveness—as I rejoined the battle, I somehow used a wave of her power to clear the entire main platform.
I moved on to help my allies retake the outlying extractors, facing a distinct Void manifestation on each Elder Dragon platform. Gorrik, Rama, and I defeated the manifestation of Jormag first, and then I moved on to help Canach and Sayida defeat Primordus. Then Ayumi, Ivan, and I vanquished Kralkatorrik. Again.
Around us, the threat of the Void rapidly went global. Calls from our allies around the world revealed the extent to which it had upended Hoelbrak, the Black Citadel, the Sandswept Isles, and more. Though we'd hoped to prevent that, hearing the voices of so many old friends fighting alongside us in their own parts of the world rallied my spirits.
After Kralkatorrik, I found Marjory fending off the shade of Mordremoth from Kasmeer's fallen body. Kas was alive, thankfully, just unconscious from giving too much of herself to get us here. When the shade was defeated, the two shared a tender moment, a celebration of still being alive.
Caithe and Logan stood at death's door in front of the final fallen dragon echo—Zhaitan. Together, we defeated the death dealer again, though Logan was wounded in the process. He convinced us to press on without him, as it was time to confront the Dragonvoid itself.
The Dragonvoid was so certain of its inevitability. But as Aurene reminded me, nothing is inevitable. Not even the Dragon Cycle. And in the end, we defeated it, ripping its tendrils out of Tyria and restoring the world to harmony.
With the Dragonvoid defeated, we had only one thing left to do—say good-bye to Soo-Won and finally bring an end to the Dragon Cycle. As Aurene absorbed the last of her magic, Soo-Won dissipated in a beautiful display. In that moment, it felt like the Dragon Cycle was truly over, and a new age had begun—the Age of Aurene.
Seeing Aurene step into her new role was bittersweet. I know that a chapter of our relationship has come to an end. She isn't going to need me in the same way anymore and will likely become inaccessible in some ways. I will have to get used to that, and I know it's a good thing, but I will also miss what we had.
We reunited back at Arborstone to reflect on the loss of Soo-Won and what it means for the Dragon Cycle to be over. We expect that Aurene will be able to take the place of the lost Elder Dragons and provide the stability that Tyria's magic craves, but if I've learned anything from the last ten years, it's that Tyria never behaves like you expect. Best to expect nothing and be prepared for anything. But maybe, finally, we will get a break.
We're all still feeling Soo-Won's loss, and that won't change soon, but most of my friends seemed optimistic about what's to come. Cantha faces a great challenge in replacing Soo-Won as the source of their jade power, but Joon, Taimi, Yao, and the country's many other great minds are already on the problem. Kasmeer and the rest of our politically minded friends will be keeping busy negotiating new alliances, as all those conversations basically ground to a halt—what with the world-ending peril taking priority.
There also seems to be an emerging new private detective agency made up of Rama, Marjory, and—remarkably—Ivan and Gorrik. For the rest of us so used to chasing dragons, our own futures are not so clear. What happens to the dragon watcher when there are none left to watch? I suppose we're going to find out.
After a couple of months of relative quiet, I received a message from Kasmeer inviting me to attend a party being thrown by her and Marjory at the Dead End Bar. It seemed like a good opportunity to reconnect with friends and see how everyone had settled into the Age of Aurene.
I arrived at the bar to find that about half the party was already there, so we mingled until everyone showed up. Kasmeer and Marjory seemed to be bubbling over with excitement, and it was clear that something big was going to happen. When our full party had gathered—Taimi, Gorrik, Logan, Rox, Rytlock, Canach, and Braham—they stood in front of all of us and proposed to each other! I think most of us weren't surprised, but that didn't make it any less exciting.
As I looked around, I thought about how good it was to see everyone be able to do the sort of normal things we've all been missing out on for so long. Life's moving on. The guild is moving on. I suppose maybe I'll have to move on some day too. But to what? I don't know yet. I suppose I'll find out when I get there.
I'd been laying low in an attempt to recuperate—physically and mentally— from...everything. It's been difficult to wrap my mind around the fact that the dragon cycle is finished. Years of war finally at an end... I've been too tired to clearly think it all through, too tired to even celebrate much since seeing everyone at Kas and Jory's engagement party. Maybe it's because the cycle's end doesn't mean there aren't plenty of problems to solve and battles to fight—Cantha's dwindling energy resources being one of many in this region alone. Not to mention a host of ongoing conflicts back in central Tyria and Elona.
I needed to take my mind off it all. Recharge. So despite still feeling exhausted, I accepted an invitation to the Red Duck Tea House for a party hosted by the recently retired Detective Rama.
Gorrik and I ended up being Rama's only guests. Three people, all that food...and Rama doesn't even eat sushi!
We chatted a bit, though Rama was preoccupied with one eye on the door— hoping for the arrival of an important guest, it seemed—and Gorrik was working on a mouthful of sushi just as Taimi called with some intriguing information.
Joon's protégé Yao uncovered that the Jade Brotherhood had discovered a form of high-powered jade during their mining operation in Gyala Depths in the Jade Sea. And the Brotherhood's leader, Park Chul-Moo, apparently informed Yao that some miners were missing while others were acting strangely aggressive.
The second he heard about missing persons and strange happenings, Gorrik excitedly went on the offensive, shooting down excuse after feeble excuse from Rama—this was going to be the first case for the Friends Detective Agency! The paperwork was already done, "terrible name" notwithstanding, and Gorrik was determined to turn the fledging agency into a full-blown operation.
Next thing we knew, Rama's party—and his retirement—were over, and we were on our way to investigate the Jade Brotherhood mining operation at Gyala Delve.
After resting my eyes on the winding train ride to Gyala Delve, I woke up and met with Rama and Gorrik to investigate the area and question the Brotherhood crew. As the two of them tended to a fallen miner, a scream drew me to Yao, who was being attacked by a haywire mech.
Once I powered the mech down, Yao reprogrammed it and filled me in on some rumors. I continued to question more of the Brotherhood crew members, but their responses ran the gamut from ridiculous to rude to downright baffling — whispers, complaints, people talking backward...
Another scream led me to Jade Brotherhood leader Chul-Moo, who'd been attacked by one of his own crew, Jin-Lee. We were forced to fight his attacker since Chul-Moo had been hesitant to defend himself, not wanting to injure his own crew.
It was unclear if Chul-Moo had done something to anger Jin-Lee or if there was some other reason for his aggression. Yao convinced Chul-Moo to investigate further, and the two of them headed deeper into the mine.
I explored deeper into the mine, where I was forced to deal with a thick fog dubbed "the haze" choking the air. Gorrik contacted me over comms and asked me to scan a number of haze concentrations down in the Howling Caves to learn more about it — apparently it was causing miners to feel ill. Possibly worse.
After I scanned some samples and transmitted the data to Gorrik, he checked in sounding stressed, but our comms signal broke up. Later, he called back, sounding like himself again... but this time our call was riddled with interference. It sounded as if an ominous voice intruded into our conversation. Gorrik continued speaking as though he hadn't heard it, but I swear it was there. And it eerily sounded familiar.
Gorrik asked me to see how the haze clouds would react to jade. I started to think I was mistaken about the voice I'd heard, but after I completed Gorrik's experiment, I tried to ask him if he'd heard anyone else on the line. Instead of Gorrik, the ominous voice returned with a mocking reply. Or so it seemed to me — Gorrik heard none of it.
I can't explain it. I know that voice. It sounded so real. But it can't be...
I regrouped with Gorrik, Rama, and Yao near the bottom of the mine at Luxon Terminus. The group was getting increasingly testy with each other. Not sure if it was the stress or some side effect of the haze exposure, or what...
We hit a dead end, but Yao had a clever solution using their mech, Finn. They reprogrammed Finn's drone to scan for weaknesses in the cavern wall and plant charges. With a warning from Gorrik about haze levels likely increasing as we descend, we blasted the wall open and continued deeper into the mine. We were immediately ambushed by subterranean horrors.
As we fought our way through a series of demon attacks, Gorrik asked me about the other voices I'd heard over comms. I wasn't sure if they were real or how to respond if they were. So I didn't.
I saw a glow at the end of a tunnel, but as I walked forward to get a better look, I felt as though I'd been punched in the stomach, the breath stolen from my lungs. As I regained composure, we realized that the glow ahead came from a ley line!
The nearby jade glimmered with infused energy, though Gorrik said it also seemed to give off a "miasmic byproduct." He and Yao theorized that perhaps this was the cause of the Brotherhood infighting that had been plaguing the mining effort. We moved through the cavern, inspecting more of the nearby jade.
We zip-lined across a chasm to a large rock formation — and that's when my memory gets hazy. A creature — some kind of shape-shifting demon — attacked us. Physically, yes, but it also assaulted me mentally somehow. Gorrik, Rama, Yao... they disappeared from my vision only to be replaced by... departed friends. Almorra and others... under attack. Their twisted words stabbed at me while waves of shadowy beasts pressed in, the wounds raw as though their deaths were fresh — deaths on my hands. The demon's power crushing my mind, I couldn't think, could only feel...
I sword we'd beating it, but I lost consciousness. I heard my friends yelling to retreat, the demon healing itself as though we hadn't landed a single blow. They dragged me to safety.
I woke outside the mine with Gorrik, Rama, and Yao hovering over me in concern, my head finally clearing, the feeling of mental vulnerability wearing off. As best I can piece together from my experience and Gorrik's theorizing, the demon had invaded my memories, latching on to the rawest emotions it could find. It used hallucinations in combination with the haze-induced vulnerability to overwhelm me. And while feeding on the ley line, the thing cannot be stopped.
If we can somehow defeat the demon, Gyala Delve's ley line and jade resources could be a solution to Cantha's dwindling energy supply. How we do that with an unkillable demonic entity staking its claim on the ley line is anybody's guess.
I'm anxious to hear what Gorrik and Taimi are planning. Seems likely to involve reopening old wounds, but some scars are better left to heal.
I realize it's been a while since my last update. If I'm being honest, my encounter with that demon—the so-called "ravenous wanderer"—took more out of me than I'd like to admit. Though I've recovered well physically, I still feel drained. Years of battle, leadership, loved ones lost—all of it takes its toll. Regardless, we have a problem on our hands, and it's not going to wait for me to take a spa day to clear my head. It's time to tackle this once and for all.
After catching up with Gorrik, Taimi, and Yao, I ventured across Tyria to revisit some crucial moments from my past. Though difficult to relive, I successfully harnessed their emotional power to charge our new invention, the Recollector. Hopefully, this power will be enough to fend off the oni lurking in the Brotherhood mine and to lure the ravenous wanderer to the surface.
Though reliving my memories was psychologically trying, I left with a sense of calm I haven't felt in years. Confronting my past has lifted some of the guilt and grief I've long carried with me. I know there's no magic cure for what I'm experiencing, but in bringing myself face-to-face with the realities of my past, I've come closer to achieving some closure. Additionally, having allies in this fight—even if it's a different sort than I'm used to battling—makes the process less isolating. Their candor has given me some much-needed perspective. Each one of them has faced difficulties and found their own individual way to cope. It gives me both great respect for them and great hope for myself.
The Recollector is charged with emotional resonance! After arming ourselves with Chul-Moo's Kurzick rune (and overlooking its questionable legal status), we're prepared to lure the wanderer away from the safety of the ley line. I find it weighs less on my conscience if I don't think too much about where and how Chul-Moo acquired his supplies.
Rama and I also made a trip to Echovald to practice the art of sealing incantations. Considering the short turnaround, Rama's done well in conjuring the sealing spell. It shows immense fortitude on his part. Keeping tradition alive, reconnecting with your ancestry...no small task, especially when your environment isn't supportive of it. But I have full faith that he'll perform the incantation successfully during our escape. And now, it's finally time to put our plan into motion.
Through invention, planning, and some improvisation, we did it! We successfully lured and defeated the ravenous wanderer. Though not without cost... There were moments I worried that the wanderer would prove too great a physical and mental threat. But my allies demonstrated strength and perseverance right to the end. No easy task. I also witnessed some of their memories of mental anguish. I admit I feel a little bad about that. I of all people know the vulnerability and pain that comes with moments like those. Yet, if anything, I gained greater respect for them, knowing some of the difficult moments that shaped them into the people they are today. Coming away from all of this truly feels like a victory. And, as Gorrik said, I feel justified in declaring this entire ordeal "case closed."
What a dinner to remember! On rather short notice, Rama invited me, Gorrik, and Taimi to join him and Acting Minister Min for an outing at the Red Duck Tea House. I suspected that Rama may be gearing up to pursue a romantic relationship with Min; his invitation confirmed it. Gorrik and Taimi "helpfully" reached out to a few of our local friends so I'd have a partner for the occasion. While I don't know that this was entirely necessary, I will admit I had a great time. More importantly, Min did too. Apart from a few hiccups the date went well, and it sounds like this may be the start of something wonderful between Rama and Min.
As for me, I come away from the experiences of these past several weeks feeling...lighter. I supposed that comes with the territory when confronting one's demons, be they metaphysical or metaphorical—or some unsettling mix of the two! The process of healing isn't instantaneous, but gradual. With consistent work it becomes more bearable, until one day the pain is the exception. It may never go away completely, but when something is that impactful in your life, perhaps it's best a piece of it remains with you—a reminder of how far you've come and all you've been through to get here.
- 1336 AE / 1846 CC
It wasn't easy to hear what Aurene had to tell me: she's leaving. Taking her place as the conduit for the magical balance of Tyria; the Eternal Alchemy; the All...whatever. I knew that this day would come, that this was what we've been preparing her for. I hoped that it would be years from now... Perhaps even after my time on this world was long over. But, she's gone. I feel an emptiness in my gut, even though I know she's out there... somewhere. I considered whether I should have gone with her, but Aurene is right. I have a place—a responsibility—here. Things that only I can do, so I have to let go. I have to move forward. For her.
And Caithe said it herself: with Aurene, we should always expect the unexpected. The only thing I regret is not saying "good-bye." I'm not ready to close that door. Not fully, not yet.
We'll see each other soon, my friend.