- Ashford Abbey is as grandiose as the town it is named for. Which means not at all. The Abbey consists of one building, a shrine to Dwayna, a nice tree, and an entrance to the catacombs. I considered seeing what all the fuss was about with the catacombs until then I remembered how hard it is to get dirt out of this material.
- It did not take long before I found Meerak the Scribe, the man Devona sent me to speak with. "Well, hello beautiful," he said, strolling up to me. His eyes roamed up and down. "What can I do you for?"
- "Devona tells me that you won't man up and report what you know to the proper authorities."
- That stopped him in his tracks. He started to look everywhere but at me. "Oh. I suppose I could. I've just been a little busy. You don't suppose that you could help me out. I could maybe write a letter if you could run it up to the city. I don't want to go out there if Devona is around."
- "Devona is the least of your worries. I've run into river skales, giant worms, an entire camp of bandits, and a huge swarm of bees. Do you hear me? Bees! I don't want to go out there either."
- "Not a problem! Let me show you on this map how to avoid all of that and get to Ascalon City before you know it." Meerak may have been a lech, but he did know his way around a map.
- Following Meerak's instructions, I quickly returned to Ascalon City. I looked for Sir Tydus, but he did not seem to be around. Instead, Armin Saberlin was standing watch at the gates to the Academy. I hurried over and handed the letter to him.
- "This is grave news, if true," he said, the words echoing through his helmet. "Do you understand what this means?"
- "That it's finally time to march on the Charr?" I asked hopefully.
- "Well, no. It means you'd better train some more if you are going to be of any help to the kingdom."
- "But I've already learned how to cast a Flare and an Aura of Restoration."
- I could see a smile within the shadow of his helm. It was not a kind smile. "Good for you, miss. But shouldn't an elementalist know spells from more than one element."
- I might have tried my pouty face on him, but he did have a point. "Fine, but next time I'm expecting you to let me into the Academy."
- He had already turned his attention to one of those death freaks by then, so I headed back toward the city gates. "Excuse me, miss," came a gruff voice. "Maybe I can help you out."
- Standing near his stall, a weaponsmith waived me over. "That's a fine wand you have there, but it's not fitted right for your grip. I can fix that up right quick and for cheap too."
- "This old thing?" I asked, holding up the wand. "It's just for show. Thanks anyway!"
- With all of my errands accounted for, I headed out of the city again, intent on continuing my education. Gwen was there with her usual cheerful demeanor. I can't shake that girl to save my life. Also waiting was Haversdan. I'm not sure why he was still out here, but he did point me toward Wizard's Folly, where a great elementalist might instruct me.
- What luck, I thought, and immediately set out in entirely the wrong direction.
- I'm not sure how I misunderstood, but soon I had crossed over the river and through some hills until I happened upon a man in heavy armor standing outside a cave. This I did not expect.
- "Greetings, madame," he called as I approached. "By the style of your dress, I take you to be the type who would aid a bereft nobleman in the procurement of his breakfast."
- "I beg your pardon?"
- His expression fell. "Can you help my man, Fadden, get some devourer eggs out of the cave?" I told him I would and we were off.
- Fadden is not so brave facing down the devourers. Maybe if the duke had lent him his very impression armor and mace, he might have been more daring. As it was, the twin-tailed terrors were no match for my stream of Flares.
- As a reward, Duke Gaban gave me two eggs. Yay?
And here we have the start of a beautiful relationship. No, not with Meerak. I mean with the map travel system. I can't even imagine this game without it. In a normal MMO, I can understand wanting to limit fast travel to maintain the illusion of a large world. You can't get away with that in Guild Wars because the world actually is massive. I can't even fathom how long it would take to run from Ascalon to the deepest part of the Maguuma Jungle. The map travel system really helps to fulfill ArenaNet's goal of getting right to the good stuff whenever you play.
Yes, there is a quest in the game to teach you how to use the map. I may have embellished the details.
The Guild Wars answer to binding equipment is what they refer to as customization. Armor is automatically customized when you buy it, but not weapons. You are free to use them or trade them freely. However if you customize your weapon, it receives a twenty percent bonus to damage. This is not an inconsiderable amount. At least for people who use their weapon for damage. If an elementalist is wanding something to death, they are probably doing it wrong. However, it's still an idea wish more games ran with.
I'm going stop here because I prepared twice as much material as I actually need. So the ending may not be entirely satisfactory, but you can look forward to a second post this week.
Thank you to everyone who voted, even the spiteful trio who voted for Legendary Defender. With seven of the thirteen votes cast, I will play through Pre-Searing long enough to get the entire collector armor set before moving on. This task will give a good survey of Ascalon before it all goes to hell, so we can enjoy a couple more weeks of greenery.
One final note, I may have been overly optimistic about polling the audience each week. There aren't that many decision points in the game, but I will let everyone take part in the ones that do come up. Thanks for reading, everyone!
© 2011 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.