The madness escalated further this month as Scarlet released her Twisted Marionette onto the peaceful slopes of Lornar’s Pass – but how did we get here, who on Tyria is Scarlet and what the fooOOoo does she want? GuildMag’s living story update will give you the info you need:
The Origins of Madness update is the next in a long story arc which has been unfolding since pretty much this time last year. Whilst not all the details are completely 100% crystal quite yet, with each update another piece in Scarlet’s grand puzzle falls into place – we’ve met new friends and allies along the way and talk is that the whole story will culminate within the next few weeks.
Scarlet Briar, born with the name Ceara, is a sylvari with a fascination for complex systems. She emerged from the dream with an almost insatiable thirst for knowledge, but not just to put this knowledge to use academically. She wanted to get hands on – create her own complex systems and leave her own intricate webs. Ceara travelled from city to city, learning from some of the greatest minds Tyria had to offer – norns in Hoelbrak, charr in the Black Citadel and the asuran colleges in Rata Sum. When she outgrew each master’s teachings, she moved on to the next.
It was under Headmaster Omadd of the College of Synergetics where she developed an interest in the asuran concept of the Eternal Alchemy. The world is the most complex system of them all and Ceara wanted to understand everything. When the asuran colleges grew uneasy with her intentions to delve into the “fabric of reality” she sided with the Inquest, an organisation whose loose morals would allow her to go the extra mile the asuran colleges would not.
After her dealings with the Inquest earned her expulsion from Rata Sum, Headmaster Omadd offered Ceara one final chance to investigate the Eternal Alchemy. Ceara would enter his experimental contraption and thereby be separated from her corporeal form and set free to explore and investigate metaphysical reality as she pleases – as long as she returned to report back her findings.
However, when she awoke in the contraption, what stepped out was not Ceara anymore. She had seen something the Pale Tree had not wanted her to see – a great secret untold – Ceara was no more, Scarlet Briar was born.
The Lost Shores
Our story begins, not with Scarlet, but another sylvari: the cunning, though misguided, Canach.
Many in Lion's Arch were recovering from various festivities, workers were taking down the Halloween decorations and the city inhabitants chatted jovially about their plans for Wintersday; swapping gossip and rumours in the crowded bars and taverns. Whispers of terrible sea monsters had been circulating the city for weeks, warning posters and strange new ships had appeared in the harbour, but they would be ok - the Lionguard would protect them.
These new ships offered passage to Southsun Cove – a tropical paradise island occupied by hoardes of vicious Karka. Under the direction of the mysterious Consortium, Canach and his team were sent to investigate the island. Unfortunately, the Karka did not take too kindly to Canach’s snooping and wiped out almost his entire team, Canach himself fled back to Lion’s Arch – but the Karka pursued him.
The gigantic Ancient Karka attacked the city with full force. It took the entirety of the Lionguard and the whole population of adventurers to quell the attack – the city was left devastated and the population sought revenge. We drove the Ancient Karka back into its lair, defeating it once and for all.
Canach himself fled again to Garenhoff, in Kessex Hills, but the Karka still found him. Reluctantly he agreed to aid the Lionguard in fighting the Ancient Karka and go into custody, though once the creature was dead, Canach had disappeared.
Flame and Frost
We first encountered Scarlet’s grand plan, though we did not know it, during the events of Flame and Frost. A new threat had emerged in the north: an unlikely partnership between the charr Flame Legion and the dredge had been forged – the Molten Alliance.
Hundreds of refugees were forced from their homes in the Shiverpeaks and Diessa Plateau due to the violence of this terrible army. Beneath Wayfarer Foothills we discovered a great Molten Facility where the Alliance were training soldiers and testing terrible new weapons. We forged new unions ourselves, with powerful new friends – Braham and Rox – both with axes to grind against these new invaders and together we destroyed the Molten Facility, restoring temporary peace to the land.
The Secret of Southsun
Having been expelled from their homes in Wayfarer Foothills and Diessa Plateau, the refugees still needed a place to call home. The Consortium offered to set them up with space on the island of Southsun Cove – a place which, following the defeat of the Ancient Karka, they had claimed to have completed tamed.
Unfortunately, it appears this was false. The wildlife of Southsun once again reacted aggressively to these outside interferences. Adventurers were invited to help Inspector Ellen Kiel in dealing with the clashes between Consortium staff and angry refugees, and investigating why the wildlife was acting up.
After some expert investigative work, the culprit was discovered to be Canach. In a misguided attempt to assist the refugees and combat the Consortium who had been sending assassins to kill him, he was attempting to nullify the contracts which bound the refugees to the island by releasing mysterious pollen across Southsun which whipped the wildlife into a frenzy.
Unfortunately, Canach’s ill-advised plan did more harm than good and he had to be stopped. Assisting Inspector Kiel, we tracked Canach down in his lair and defeated him – taking him into Lionguard custody for good.
The Sky Pirates of Tyria
During the Dragon Bash festival, we celebrated the vanquishing of the terrible Elder Dragon Zhaitan. Sponsored by the Lion’s Arch Captain’s Council, we spent weeks bashing dragons and generally partying ourselves silly – all culminating in the lighting of two great dragon effigies by the great fountain in Lion’s Arch. However, during the ceremony a new enemy emerged: dropping from airborne transports, the sky pirate Aetherblades attacked the councillors at the ceremony and, by exploding one of the dragon effigies, managed to assassinate Theo Ashford – a human councilmember.
We were tasked with ferretting out how this attack came to happen and who was responsible. After some sterling investigative work, the culprit was exposed as Mai Trin – a human attendee at the ceremony who had offered to help tend to injured councilmembers – she had engineered the assignation in order to attempt to gain her own place on the council. After being exposed, Mai Trin escaped to her Aetherblade base in a cliff face in Lion’s Arch.
With the help of Inspector Ellen Kiel we fought our way through the Aetherblade base, killed Mai Trin’s first mate Horrik and took Mai Trin herself into custody. During the fight, Mai Trin revealed that: “Scarlet’s going to have my noggin for screwing up!” The Lionguard locked Mai Trin in a cell in Fort Marriner.
Due to the unfortunate demise of councilmember Theo Ashford, a new space became available on the Captain’s Council. Two main candidates emerged from the people: Inspector Ellen Kiel of the Lionguard and Evon Gnashblade of the Black Lion Trading Company. A major part of both of their election campaigns would be the securing of the support of the recently arrived Zephyr Sanctum at the Bazaar of the Four Winds in Labyrinthine Cliffs.
Both candidates proved themselves to be fierce competitors and savvy politicians, but eventually it was Ellen Kiel who the people voted into the position on the Captain’s Council.
After the rather cutthroat matter of council politics, the people were ready for a little pomp and ceremony. Queen Jenna’s Jubilee provided the perfect chance for adventurers across the land to let their hair down and spend some time wrecking millions of gold’s worth of clockwork automatons. You know, just for fun?
The Queen's Jubilee and Clockwork Chaos
Just like any good soap opera, no happy occasion is the same without a little drama. Queen Jenna’s shiny new Watchwork Knights were perhaps not quite as well programmed as we first thought and, during the process of the ceremony, they went a little haywire; attacking guests and heroes alike. Queen Jenna, however, was undeterred and once this attack was quelled she forged on with her grand speech regardless. During the Queen’s speech the clockwork minions attacked again – this time blowing up the balcony upon which Queen Jenna was standing! As the balcony crumbled, the figure of the Queen disintegrated – a mere mesmer’s illusion! Hapless Lord Faren, however, was not quite so fortunate and he fell into the twisted grasp of Scarlet Briar.
After battling through Scarlet’s playhouse, heroically rescuing Lord Faren and restoring peace to Divinities Reach we turned our attention to the equally pressing matter of the thousands of Watchwork minions streaming out of portals all across Tyria. For a few weeks, Tyria was utterly besieged by Scarlet’s Watchwork monstrosities and though we fought valiantly to push them back, occasional invasions still occur to this day.
For a while the return of Moto’s Super Adventure Box and the rising of the great undead dragon Tequatl provided some much-needed distractions, but ultimately Tyria’s adventurers knew that Scarlet was not yet finished.
As if the Maguuma jungle didn’t have enough on its plate what with Tequal gaining new and previously untold strength; a stirring in the Twilight Arbor caused significant concern amongst the sylvari.
Caithe and Co were determined to find the root of the disturbance: it seemed a good chunk of the already treacherous Twilight Arbor had been co-opted by a branch of Scarlet’s Aetherblades and they were using the space to produce vast airships and train their soldiers using a corrupted Oakheart as a power source. Whilst battling the dangerous “Clockheart” – Scarlet captured and taunted Caithe, claiming to have discovered a terrible secret about her past: "What do you think the Pale tree will say when she finds out what you did? Or does she already know?"
With the Twilight Arbor Aetherblades under control, Tyria faced a new threat – the yearly return of Mad King Thorn (this time accompanied by his son – the Bloody Prince Thorn!). The occupants of Tyria were perhaps too distracted by this new danger to notice the changes in Kessex Hills; the increased Krait activity and a strange mesmer illusion hiding... who knows what.
The Tower of Nightmares
Undeterred by defeat in Twilight Arbor, Scarlet turned her attention to her most ambitious project yet: the mesmer illusion fell to reveal a gigantic tower in the middle of Kessex Hills – with a monstrous plant heart at its centre. The Tower of Nightmares spewed corruption and toxins across the land and, to make matters worse, it was guarded by yet another new and dangerous coalition: The Toxic Alliance. Comprising of the Nightmare Court allies Scarlet was able to recruit in Twilight Arbor and an army of gullible krait whom Scarlet had deceived into the thinking the tower would summon their god, the Toxic Alliance used poisons and hallucinogenic toxins to incapacitate their foes.
After battling past the guards, we fought our way to the top of the Tower and, with the help of Marjory Delaqua and Kasmeer Meade, we injected a powerful anti-toxin into the heart of the tower. The Tower of Nightmares fell just as the celebrations for Wintersday were beginning, and Tyria hoped to forget Scarlet Briar's crooked machinations for a few brief weeks. But what dark knowledge had Scarlet gained from her corrupted florae?
After bringing down the tower, we had the chance to indulge in a little time-travel before the festivities of Wintersday began. Having voted Ellen Kiel into office on the Captain’s Council many months previous, we had also voted for research to begin on the origins of the explosion at the Thaumanova Reactor in the North West segment of Metrica Province. After Dessa gave us access to this particular fractal of the mists we were able to travel to a moment before the explosion occurred and, just by chance, who might we find fiddling with the controls?
Scarlet was using the reactor to investigate powerful dragon energies and magical ley-lines: it was her experiments which ultimately led to the explosion. More pieces of Scarlet’s grand plan seemed to be falling into place. Back in our current timeline mysterious and unexplained pulsing metal probes appeared at numerous sites across Tyria.
The Origins of Madness
And so we reach our current predicament: The Origins of Nightmares. In Lornar’s Pass a great experiment has begun. A gigantic mechanical puppet is suspended from an immeasurably large hovering platform, wave after wave of vicious Watchwork minions flood towards the site in an attempt to power it up to full capacity. We heroes fight constantly to hold back the armies of Watchwork monstrosities which would assist in completing this hulking great marionette. Each time we succeed, the marionette is banished, only to return a few hours later. Each time we fail the clockwork automaton releases a pulse of energy which instantly kills every living adventurer in the entire zone.
One piece of progress which has been made is the discovery of a secret lab underneath the Durmond Priory headquarters. This abandoned laboratory contains countless sketches, diagrams and schematics for all of Scarlet’s previous attacks – a plan for the Tower of Nightmares, a chart displaying potential and existing evil alliances and numerous currently non-existent abominations (the rocket dolyak being of particular interest). Most disturbing, however, is a still functional holo-screen which seems to display a map of Tyria with marks for each mysterious energy probe and a plan for an attack on what appears to be Lion’s Arch – this information would correlate with the latest, unsettling discovery: a mysterious probe nestled at the bottom of the lake right in the heart of Tyria’s finest city.
Scarlet’s intentions are still not yet 100% clear. Is she attempting to wipe out Tyria and recreate the world as she sees fit? Is she trying to take control of the land to lead and hold dominion over all its inhabitants? Or are her ends perhaps even more nefarious still? Scarlet has a fascination with complex systems, an interest in dragon magic and her attacks always seem to occur across particular paths which criss-cross the land of Tyria. Some adventurers have suggested that she is attempting to either understand or gain access to the magical “ley lines” mentioned the in Orrian History Scrolls and in the Thaumanova Fractal – but for what end? Only time will tell for sure.
Be sure to stay tuned to GuildMag to keep up to date with the Living Story developments as they happen – the next few weeks are going to be rough for Tyria and the world will need all the heroes it can muster to finally bring the villain Scarlet Briar to justice!