Sunday, July 21, 2013

Guild Wars 2 Living Story So Far - Part 2


So with the completion of Flame and Frost, the players were immediately presented with a new set of challenges - the unrest around the refugees that the Consortium had convinced to settle in Southsun Cove. The events in Southsun played out over two updates, and during that time we encounter some familiar faces, old friends, and hidden enemies.



Southsun Cove and the Karka
You can't really tell the entire story of the Secret of Southsun though without first backing up a bit and talking a bit about Southsun Cove itself.  Southsun was first discovered by a trading company known as The Consortium.  Very little is known about the Consortium's origins, but they seek financial advantage at every opportunity, even going so far as to abandon their comrades if the price is right.  We also know they operate with a rigorous and thorough bureaucracy.  When you sign a deal with the Consortium, they will absolutely make sure you abide by that contract - by any means necessary.

The Consortium discovered the island of Southsun in the Sea of Sorrows, and found it surprisingly free of Zhaitan's corruption.  It was, however, occupied by another race - the Karka.  The Karka were an amphibious race, formerly living deep underwater with the Sea of Sorrows.  However, the incursions of an elder sea dragon drove them from their homes to the surface, and they settled on Southsun.

The Karka invade Lion's Arch
The Consortium saw the opportunity to create a vacation resort at Southsun, and the first order of business to do so was to create an Asura Gate that would link their newly established quarters in Lion's Arch with the island.  A sylvari named Canach was the Consortium member in charge of directing that effort.  He sent a ship to the island, but none of the members of the expedition returned.  It is presumed they met up with the Karka inhabiting the island, and were wiped out by them.  And like hornets that have had their nest disturbed, the Karka, an ancient and intelligent race, tracked the Consortium across the Sea of Sorrows.  They attacked at numerous locations, including Caledon Forest, Kessex Hills, and a full-scale invasion of Lion's Arch.

Inspector Ellen Kiel
It is here that we meet for the first time Inspector Ellen Kiel.  She is a member of the Lionguard, and together her and her commander Captain Magnus the Bloody-Handed, direct the defense of Lion's Arch.  It's soon learned that the Karka's armored carapaces are immune to normal weaponry.  Inspector Kiel tasks the heroes with tracking down information and ingredients on how to actually damage the Karka.  And the players, along with the help of the asura Researcher Levvi, do exactly that. Armed with that knowledge, Inspector Kiel and the heroes fight off the Karka invasion of Lion's Arch, driving the creatures back into the sea.  She then leads the offensive on Southsun itself, and accompanied by the players and the Lionguard, assaults Southsun cove - establishing camps, building bridges, and eventually defeating the one and only known Ancient Karka in a titanic battle that raged for hours.  In the aftermath of the battle, Canach, who is largely considered the person most responsible for the Karka invasion, escapes the Lionguard, and becomes a fugitive. Not only is he wanted by the Lionguard, but the chief member of the Consortium in Lion's Arch at the time of the invasion - Subdirectory Noll, is more than ready to place all of the blame for the Karka incident at Canach's feet, and sends hit squads after him to have his contract decommissioned.

And so it was that the Lionguard established a foothold on the island of Southsun, despite the fact that the Consortium not only maintains their presence there, but claims ownership of the entire island.

The Consortium's Expanded
Settlements
A Less-than-willing Work Force
Flash forward now to a few months later.  It turns out that despite the presence of the Karka, the Consortium isn't giving up on their plan to turn Southsun Cove into a vacation paradise.  They've expanded their presence there, building up and reinforcing the settlements, and successfully completed the Asura Gate between the Cove and Lion's Arch.  But they're still having a bit of difficulty getting the wildlife - especially the Karka, under control.  Now the Consortium see opportunity where others see peril - and they see opportunity in the flood of refugees coming out of the Wayfarer Foothills and Diessa Plateau.  They set up a refugee camp in Lion's Arch, offering food, supplies, and shelter to those that will take it.  But it soon becomes clear that they have grander plans in mind.

Once the threat of the Molten Alliance is past, many of the refugees are homeless and jobless.  Entire villages have been destroyed, crops burned. The Consortium offered the refugees an alternative - a new life, in a new location.  They would be provided homes, food, and shelter, and in turn all they had to do was to work the new settlement, and of course assist with the control of the wildlife.  All they had to do was sign a contract.

Riots among the settlers
As you can imagine, it didn't take long for the refugees to realize they got the worse end of a bad deal. The wildlife were of course far more dangerous than the Consortium made them out to be.  People were getting killed, and it was almost impossible to work.  But the Consortium was insistent, contracts had been signed, and the refugees could not leave.  Tensions between the Consortium regulars and the refugees began to mount significantly.  Inspector Kiel,  who remained stationed in Southsun, moved her headquarters from Inspector Levvi's camp to Pearl Islet.  And she found herself and her Lionguard caught in the middle.  The contracts were legal and binding, and there was little she could do for the refugees.  But it was clear the refugees had been taken advantage of, and she didn't much care for it.  Riots began to break out among the workers, and Kiel and the Lionguard found themselves having to play the role of peackeepers, on top of trying to keep the local wildlife under control.   To make matters worse, despite the influx of more people to assist in dealing with the wildlife, attacks were becoming more frequent.  It was as if something was specifically stirring them up and goading them into attacking.

Syrene, Kasmeer, and Lord Faren take
time out for a bit of R&R
Fun in the Sun
However, it's not all grim and deadly down in Southsun.  Despite the dangers, some people are making their way to the resort, and doing their best to enjoy the tropical flora and fauna.  Two among the tourists are Lord Faren, and a lovely nobilewoman named Lady Kasmeer Meade.  They could be found down at the beach in Pearl Islet, enjoying the sun, and each other's company.  Lord Faren would have been familiar to any player that chose the nobility background, as he plays a prominent role in that story.  It appears Lord Faren was involved in some shenanigans in Divinity's Reach involved in a cat beauty contest.  He's decided a short vacation to Southsun Cove might be in his best interests.

However, this is the first time we've met the Lady Kasmeer.  And at this point, she's a bit of a mystery.  We learn that she's a noblewoman.  She works with someone name Jory, and she's not terribly pleased with the fact that many of her peers think less of those that are less fortunate than themselves.  But she loves the work that she does with her business partner, and it is a fact-finding trip for her that brings her to Southsun.  And a chance for a bit of relaxation as well.  It's also made clear that she and Lord Faren have known each other since children.  So while she may not be entirely enamored with Faren, they are still close friends.

The Plot Thickens
Meanwhile on the island, things take a turn for the worse when one night, a number of Consortium buildings are specifically targeted by the wildlife. It becomes clear to Kiel that not only is someone or something specifically agitating the wildlife, but actually directing their attacks.  She launches an investigation of her own, and goes to see Subdirector Noll to ask him about the buildings that were attacked.  Subdirector Noll is now living on the island as well, and is in charge of the development efforts there.  He remains as nasty and offensive as ever.  He informs Inspector Kiel that the buildings attacked were storage depots.  They held tools, supplies, and more importantly - records. He also tells her that this is not the only incident.  Several of their storage facilities on the mainland have also been destroyed.  And he informs her, perhaps to his detriment, that the records that remain in the storage facilities are the only copies of the contracts now between the settlers and the Consortium.

After one of the more severe attacks by the wildlife on the Consortium settlement in Driftglass Springs, a crucial piece of information is discovered.  Assisting in the fight herself, Inspector Kiel finds a refugee that confesses to helping in the attacks.  The refugee, who's name is Henrika, tells Inspector Kiel that her and a number of the other refugees have been helping a rough-looking sylvari.  He promised them that no one would get hurt but the Consortium, and the contracts that bound them to Southsun would be destroyed.  Kiel knows immediately who the sylvari is: Canach.  It would appear that the fugitive has returned, and is trying to exact his vengeance on Noll and the Consortium for, at least in his eyes, ruining his life.

Canach's Folly
Canach has, in fact returned, and it is he that is responsible for goading the wildlife into attacking the settlers.  He has created a plant based reagent that affects the adrenal gland of the animals, agitating them to the point of aggressiveness.  Furthermore, he has come up with a way to mark targets, so that the animals will attacks specific objects.  The Lionguard fan out across the island, and eventually track Canach back to his lair, hidden down within the caves and tunnels that run through the island.

Entering the Lair of Canach
The player and Inspector Kiel, along with the assistance of a charr refugee named Marcela Oakaxe, enter the lair.  There they find Canach, surrounded by mines of his own devising, and hyped up on the same stimulants that he used to goad the wildlife.  A battle ensues, and eventually Canach is captured alive.  But once he's in custody, he continues to rant about destroying Noll and the Consortium.  He tells Kiel that every prisoner contract has been marked, and that he doesn't even have to be there for his plan to work.  Soon the wildlife will attack en masse, destroying all of the contracts, and freeing the prisoners.  Still raving, he is escorted away by the Lionguard.

Kiels Move
Inspector Kiel realizes that this is exactly the opportunity she has been looking for.  She decrees that the circumstances now dictate a security emergency.  For everyone's safety the contracts must be moved off of the island - and to ensure that it's done securely, the Lionguard will see to the removal.  She informs Noll that this is strictly nonnegotiable.

The contracts are escorted to
the docks
The contracts are gathered up, and loaded on a dolyak.  With the assistance of the player, and several of the island's notable refugees (Henrika is there, as is Marcela Oakaxe and her mate, Aggren Vicegrip), the Dolyak is escorted down to the Southsun docks, and the contracts loaded on the ship.  The ship sets sail for Lion's Arch, but has barely cleared the docks when an explosion occurs on board, destroying the ship and the contracts on board.

Noll, is of course, horrified.  But Kiel is inordinately pleased.  Of course, she claims that Canach must have been one step ahead of them after all, and that the destroyed ship must have been his doing.  But she assures Noll (and the player) that she gave orders for the Lionguard to abandon ship should anything bad happen, so no one was injured in the sinking of the ship.  With the contracts destroyed, the refugees are no longer bound to the Consortium, and are free to leave the island.

Over at the resort, both Faren and Kasmeer also feel that vacation is over, and pack their things and prepare to return to Lion's Arch.

All in all, things wrap up fairly well for Kiel and the Lionguard.  Or as Captain Magnus the Bloody Handed puts it..

"But Canach's in custody, the settlers are happy, and Noll is furious.  I call that a good day's work!"