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by Edgar Doiron on Nov 12, 2015 at 10:16 AM
Alright i'll try to do this monthly letter, and update you guys with all the news.

If you are receiving this, and are not playing GW2 anymore, or aren't part of [FORD], please reply and i'll take care of removing you from the roster list.

There's currently a Poll going on, to decide if we do RAIDS twice a week, or once a week. And on which day. Raids will require 10 players, so we might be able to do 2 groups on certain day. We can probably fill up a group with members from [lite] and [Seed], that's TBD.

I currently set an event for Friday November 20th, to try out the raid, which comes out Tuesday November 17th. Don't forget to signup, places will be given up in the order you signed in on.

I've added a section in the top menu, to see our Guild Hall upgrades. I try to keep it updated daily.

Since we're on the subject of Upgrades, here's my stance on this. Don't waste your gold on materials you don't have, just to complete a certain thing. If an item requires gold, like Elonian wine, runes of holding, go ahead. But if you need like 100 silk to craft a certain thing, do not buy it off the TP. Ask in guild first, and if no one as any, well we will eventually get some. I don't want everyone to go broke with GH Upgrades, just drop stuff you already have, or that you can craft. The Guild Hall is a Guild effort, so let's work together to build an awesome place to hangout.

If you are currently on Sorrow's Furnace, and you would like to participate in a server wide Secret Santa Event, we have one coming up. Signup form should be available on Novemeber 15th. I will add a link to the signup form on mumble, update this post on the forums and probably add a banner on the front page. If you need any information, you can contact Edgar Doiron, Jason, Marco or Mauxe. We are all helping out with the event.

If you are currently on Sorrow's Furnace, did you know we had a server website? You can chat with other fellow SF players there, and if you're into WvW, it's a nice place to discuss strategy and such.

We were using the website's built in chat, to chat with members that work in-front of a pc all day. The problem is, the chat wasn't persistent, and kept going idle and you had to refresh back to see what was typed.

So now we are using discord, some of you might be familiar with it. You can use it as a chat client, and also a voice chat, but we're only using it as a chat client. Here's a link to our channel.

I've reworked the guild Ranks and assigned different perks to each of the different ranks. You can View the Current Ranks, and the requirement for each on our guild website.I will be adding roles/permissions for different stuff on the guild website shortly. It will be reflected on the Ranks page.

I added a section to the menu that gives us the Boss Timers and the timer for the HOT Meta Events

We're starting to get more and more members in the guild, Do you think we should start hosting guild meetings (more like 15 minute scrums) every 2 weeks?

That way it would give us a place for all of us to gather and discuss the different guild related stuff, like:
  • Upcoming Events
  • Guild Hall Upgrade Direction
  • Let members bring up different points.
  • (Need help with something, bring it up)
  • and more...

Would you be interested in joining such a meeting?
Here's a Poll.
by Edgar Doiron on Jun 09, 2015 at 08:56 AM
Meeting Notes

Server Meeting 6/8/2015

Class and Tactics Training Recap (Sunday, June 7)
  • Two groups of five with one commander per group.
  • Felt like a group following commanders order.
  • Simulated group fights that you would encounter in WvW.
  • Overall, everything went well.
11pm EST(8pm PST) every Sunday unless stated otherwise.

Commander and Tactics Training

Nothing is set yet, but it’d be good to do. (Ask Khold & Aurora & Quag)

WvW Talk

Was asked to team up with IoJ against FC.
Majority vote says no, conflict will happen.

Ferguson’s Crossing is just a DR 2.0, they’re just for bags.

by Edgar Doiron on Jun 05, 2015 at 08:07 AM
New Player WvW Training
There wasn't enough interest last Tuesday, probably because of the Stronghold Beta. So I will be running it again next Tuesday, June 9th 2015 @9:30pm EST/ 6:30pm PST in SFBL

Skill and Tactics training in Custom Arenas
Last Sunday, I decided to try and host an event of an hour or so, where people could 1v1 classes they had problems with in WvW. This method of training vs certain class let's the players talk about what they do and what to watchout for in battles. Like certain skill tells, what skills are unblockable and such.

It went really well, and we had plenty of interest.

Sunday, June 7th 2015 @11pm EST/ 8pm PST i'll be hosting another event. This time, what we will try to do is split the group in two, with a commander in each team. Then we will simulate a field battle. This will do two things.
  1. Train a commander to lead and make the right calls for his group
  2. Train the players at listening to their commander while in the field.

May the best team win!
Site is offline now, trying to reach Krytan Herald, on the status of the site.

Fate of HT
Gortist quit the game, but HT is still alive and kicking. 5 players took on the leadership of HT.
  • Blurred
  • Fae
  • Feral
  • Jesse
  • Meest

I'm glad to see you guys are there to keep leading HT into many more battles!

Lower numbers on Thursday and Friday
This was brought up during the meeting. I do think that the numbers on Thursday reflects on our standing during that week. If we're first place and need to keep it because the other team is close, Thursday will have a lot of players.

But this week, yeah, we're fairly close to DR, but to be able to beat them we would need some morning coverage, which we don't at the moment. So I'm guessing this is the explanation for the lower numbers on Thursday.

Doesn't mean we can't have fun killing our enemies ;)

Commander/Leader master list
I've been building a list of all the commanders/leader of different guilds I've been seeing active in WvW.
Here's the link

That's it for the news!
by Edgar Doiron on May 19, 2015 at 11:37 AM
Big turnout last night! The meeting was postponed later than usual, 11pm instead of 10pm, to accommodate the Spanish guilds, but commander commander wasn't notified about this.

So about 5 minutes in the meeting, he pops up and he's like "Oh did the meeting changes? They're still at 10 on the website" and just before he entered the guys from [HT] linked a google docs with a list of stuff to tackle during this meeting.

Something I think we should've done a long time ago. But yeah, so commander commander, does like he always do, brings the meeting to shit. Just talks about what guild is where and shit, and complains he didn't get the notice of the time change for the meeting (Most don't like him :P).

Then he's like, alright I have a guild event and have to go... So he made us lose our first 15 minutes of meeting. Back to following the google Doc listing.

So We talked about what we would like to see from meetings, and what we think is missing in WvW.
We've setup a google docs folder, which will have a document for every server meeting, available before the meetings and to everyone with this link. We can bring up stuff to the agenda so it's discussed at the meeting.

Last night, we talked a bit about language barriers, since we have a lot of Spanish guilds. We came to the conclusion that map chat is probably the best way to communicate between Spanish and English, since they did say that they had no problem with written english. It's just speaking it that's a problem :)

Then it was brought to our attention that there seems to be an influx of players in WvW, lots of them who are new to the game and/or game type. So we talked about having WvW training at least once a week, led by the different commanders of SF. Nothing really big, really for the noobs. Stuff like
  • Following Commanders
  • Carrying Siege Disablers
  • Carrying AC blueprints
  • Explaining the Tag colors
  • Siege Refreshing
  • Reading chat, entering TS
  • Proper group reporting

All that stuff can be thought/shown to new players under 30 minutes, and with just this simple gesture, you can get someone hooked to WvW, compared to just wandering around mindlessly.

There was more specific training on the list, but we decided to push it to the next meeting, where we'll talk about Noob training and more specific training. And how we split the load of running these events.

Bookmark this link, so you can see what's upcoming for the next meetings
by Ryazz on May 13, 2015 at 09:16 AM
Hey guys, I know Ive been a little AFK the last two weeks but I plan on ramping it up this weekend. Anywho, I think I traced the computer issues to an exposed wire on my headset that was shorting out the whole system. The local computer technicians saw no issue with my system so that must have been it. I'll be getting a new headset this Friday, any suggestions would be nice ($50-$75)

This past server meeting was aimed at ensuring that all the main guilds aren't raiding on the same night, essentially trying to spread the coverage amongst all days of the week. By the sounds of it MOA has a new Commander who is covering OCX time which should help out. Also, they were hoping to get all the Spanish guilds on the same page and running as a separate Zerg on reset night.

From a siege placement perspective, all they suggested is that after we flip a tower that Sup AC's are built so that it is easily defended if need be.

That's about it for now.
by Edgar Doiron on May 01, 2015 at 09:02 AM
For this upcoming reset/week, we are still scheduled for Reset night with [SUNS] in our own BL and Tuesday night in our BL.

[HT] and [MOA] will be handling EBG

[QUAG] lead by Quaggan Mode will be floating between SFBL and EBG where help is needed.

Tag Colors have changed a bit, here are the new ones (and I've updated the sidebar)
  • Main commander of the map
  • Enemy locations, portals, golems, etc. (If following an enemy zerg, or if you're hiding in a keep trying to show where you're at)
  • Havoc/Defense (Used to flip camps, walk yaks, etc.)
  • Map Floaters (Floaters are first-call response for defense on maps, or helping fix outnumbered buffs.)

I would love for the whole guild to participate at least an hour or so, just to show map presence, and have some fun as a guild.
by Edgar Doiron on Apr 27, 2015 at 12:52 PM
So last night I was playing in SFBL, and we were outnumbered in our own BL.

We were down to defending garrison against BP and DR, we were out of supplies, but there was a full supply drop at Citadel.

Did you know mesmers could port from the siege vendor in Garri, to behind the laurel vendor in citadel?

In like 6 passes, we were able to drain supply from citadel, rebuild our walls and siege up a bit more.
by Edgar Doiron on Apr 24, 2015 at 10:34 AM
For this upcoming reset/week, we are still scheduled for Reset night with [SUNS] in our own BL.

Ryazz and Marco and probably Marmaduke should be in there leading our guys.
If you guys need help, send a whisper to Gorthist[HT] or Aquamarine [MOA]

don't forget the tag colors
  • Main commander
  • Defensive commander
  • Scouts(do not follow him)
  • Havoc/guilds

And we're also scheduled for Tuesday night.

it would be awesome to get most of the guild joining these events. WvW is so much fun when we run as a guild.
by Edgar Doiron on Apr 18, 2015 at 01:14 AM
Tonight was the first real night where we were fully organized. We were taking care of SFBL with [Suns] and [Kami] and other pugs that joined us. We had scouts/upgrader tag up with yellow (so we had about 3-6 at all time on the map) with a blue commander from [Suns] leading the main zerg. We never reached massive zerg size on blue, but with the good communication we were having in TS, we always managed to pull back up when it was needed.

As a server working together we held out pushes from BP that hugely surpassed our numbers in hills, and even some push from DR at bay.

I was tagged up in yellow, helping scout and upgrade the camps and towers around bay, stayed in that area for 4 hours, when I finally logged off, bay was fully siege up, and WP upgrades were at 25%.

I'll say one thing, communication is key. Each time we were attacked by the big BP zerg in Hills, a quick shoutout to Gortist [HT], an he would port from EBG to our BL to help defend with his guild, and once it was safe, port back to EBG. We had to call on him three times tonight, but we always had quick response time, and we were pretty good with our numbers at defending hills, just not push them away.

For our first night working as an organised group, we did really good.
by Edgar Doiron on Apr 17, 2015 at 09:59 AM
I got into the BL, with Marco tagged up, so I acted as the co-pilot, managing chat, spamming TS server info, and helping him to make some calls. Until he had to tag down to go take care of the kids. I tagged up after, continuing the saga.

SF BL needed to be retaken by us, when I tagged up we were inside hills, we were doing good. Marco died from afk-ing, and Ryazz just got in, so they went to get ready for the attack on Bay, setting up a cata and attacking the NW gate. We flipped hills went to SE camp to flip it and started making our way towards Bay to help out Marco.

We took Bay without any enemies stopping us. Cleaned up the rest of SF BL, and told the remaining pugs to whisper us if something big happened.

Devona's Rest Borderland
We didn't own anything here, so what I like to do is usually start Siegerazer, and then head to one of the two camps to get everyone supplied up. Met back with Siegerazer at Briar, and we took down the tower, that had a single enemy that downed a couple of us, with good AC placement where we couldn't reach him.
What I did wrong
I thought I could reach that AC with a ballista from the small hill in front of Briar tower, but nope, a Catapult would've been a better choice, next time I'll know better. Lesson learned

With the supplies from the tower, we built our first golem and brought it back to our base. Then we went back to Vale, to build a second golem there with the supplies, while Marco and Ryazz and the rest of FORD were taking care of south camp. Port the golem back to base, and headed to south camp for the 3rd golem.

We took them all towards Bay for our first attack, Marco was porting us with his mesmer, so we could move faster. Bay was fully supplied up, so once we took it, we built 3 more Golems and headed towards Garrison.

Marco showed me a nice spot by the SW gate at gari where we couldn't be hit by the siege on top. We destroyed outer gate, our golems were pretty beat up though, made our way through inner gate, got it down to 25% when a huge zerg came in, they got reinforcement from guilds in EBG to come help push us out. We made a strategic retreat, saving most of our guys, and captured their hills.

That's where I ended our night. I'm so happy that most of FORD were in WvW with us fighting. I hope you guys enjoyed it, and that we will see you at reset for our push in SFBL :D
by Marco on Apr 12, 2015 at 02:03 PM
Based on votes as well as 2 Commander / Server meetings over the weekend this is where FORD will stand as a guild in WvW.

Again this does not mean you can't WvW any other day but this is merely where we would like to see majority of FORD helping our server out.

Friday (Reset night)
FORD will be running Havoc / Support on Friday nights on our BL. MOA will be in EBG, HT will be in one of the enemy BL. DICE or SUNS will pugmand on our BL while FORD runs havoc on our BL however if DICE or SUNS calls upon us for support we will stack up on TAG to help out. If our BL is under control we will be responsible on Reset night to scout for our BL and provide upgrades to our keeps / towers / camps.

FORD will run havoc in either our BL or enemy BL depending on status of HT and MOA.

Wednesday - Post Missions
For those wanting to stay online since we have our majority of members on at this time we will run HAVOC :)

Edgar, Myself and Ryazz and soon Marmaduke will be commanding. Between us we will ensure we are all on the same page, following same tactics to ensure success for our guild members and pugs who follow along. That being said we will ensure fair rotation among the commanders to ensure each ahs sufficient amount of time to improve.

SF's goal is to be a tier 6 server. That means we need to ensure our Commanders become better and stronger and more respected if we want to lead in that tier
by Ryazz on Apr 12, 2015 at 09:42 AM
Jeff donated 3 stacks of Mithril Ore to me for siege upgrades and with it I've upgraded the majority of the Basic plans in the guild bank. That said, I only have about 30 Siege Master Guides left for further upgrades and have run out of Elder Wood Logs.

I'm also sitting on 4k Badges so I can continue to purchase more Basic plans to refill the bank.

I sent 30g to Marmaduke to help him get his tag, are there any other members who have expressed interest in getting their commander tag?
by Marco on Apr 08, 2015 at 04:27 PM
Greetings Fordlings.

After beginning talks with Ryazz and Edgar we have decided to create this Journal and with the replies below we will update the list of Best Practices and Do's/Don't for leading in WvW as well as some best practices and general WvW etiquette.

These are items we will review each week with how the previous WvW session(s) went, discussing what worked, what didn't work to ensure we are rolling on the same page and being the best we can be while having fun.

FORD WvW Motto: FORD plays for PTT while having fun!

Tag Colors
  • Blue - Main commander of the map
  • Yellow - Scouts
  • Purple - Havoc squads/guild groups/map floaters, etc.
  • Red - Defensive commanders, portal locations, golems, enemy locations, etc.
Commander should have two co-pilots. One dedicated to keeping up with map chat, letting commander know where enemy is from the scouts,typing call outs from commander such as stacking on commander, where/when to build, etc.. And one dedicated to map viewing every 15-20 sec to look for swords for enemy location, looking at flanks when zerg is moving and for flanking enemies from the side or behind.

When in a zerg/group led by a commander make sure you follow these general guidelines

  • If using rams ensure you have a "lookout" person dedicated to report incoming enemy players.
  • If using siege such as catas to take out a tower from range, ensure you are far enough that enemy siege so balista won't touch your catas.
  • Back track when moving across map to ensure you are throwing enemy off as to your location.
  • Since we are PTT based, if a location is under attack and we know there is a very high chance we can't get there in time and/or defend it, it is better to just move on and cap something rather than wasting time for a losing cause. Better to get that next objective then go back to re-take what we lost.
  • Splitting zerg in two (when feasible and ordered by commander) to take two objectives at the same time in a situation where we can afford to do so in order to speed up the PTT.
  • Only commander is to place down siege unless other wise suggested by the commander him/her self.
  • When building multiple siege always build LEFT to RIGHT.

When Not Commanding (roaming and or following zerg)

  • Be sure to call out enemies when you see them. Name, number and location. If you don't know location quickly go to map view and hit shift and click closest POI. Ex. 10-15 Ferguson Crossing @ Bay.
  • Never EVER run from a fight when you have already initiated unless told by commander. If you're following a commander, and say its a 10v10 and 2 or 3 run away because you feel you're outnumbered or outclassed this will cause a negative effect to those who stay in the fight.
  • Always stay on commander
  • Never chase enemy unless commander is leading the chase.

  • Don't taunt enemy. We need to remember that SF has been one of the most hated servers in the past, and taunting doesn't help nor does it set a good example to the guild you are representing. Wouldn't be fair if enemy hates FORD when 9/10 don't taunt but 1 does and they hate us for it. I'd rather enemy hate FORD because we are better than them :)
  • When a duel opportunity arises (say enemy bows to you) or stops in front of you, if you plan on engaging in the duel ensure you bow. After fight be respectful and bow again.
  • If enemy whispers you out of hate, don't respond. Your silence is more powerful than responding with more hate. This again reflects the image of the guild.

All in all have fun, WvW is a place we can play together and make an impact for our server. We will never be a big WvW guild as FORD is a PvX guild, but I know for those who do play, if we stick to the same methods we can make a difference. When I receive message from guilds like LORE and DW saying they love FORD's havoc runs then I know we are making a difference.

Feel free to post any thoughts, suggestions or questions below.

See you on the battlefield!
by Edgar Doiron on Mar 14, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Morning. Despite massive losses, the 14th still holds Trader's Forum. With Honeclaw's death, the mood is subdued, but determined. In these tense, quiet moments, the 14th builds ad-hoc barriers out of Aetherblade bodies to give their few remaining sharpshooters cover.

This gruesome sight greets a stream of fresh reinforcements entering Lion's Arch. Because of the 14th, countless Lionguard and volunteers can now move into the city and take this battle to Scarlet.

The 14th will not acknowledge their triumph. They stay focused, watching the perimeter. Even though it's not said, they now wait for the words every Lionguard aches to hear: Scarlet is dead.

Scholar Ela Makkay,
embedded with the 14th Lionguard Security Force/"Marriner's Might"
by Edgar Doiron on Mar 12, 2014 at 10:10 AM

We saw him at dawn, just as Honeclaw ordered what was left of the 14th into position around the Trading Forum's wreckage.

He was a beast of a human, dressed in blue and covered in brass cogs. He commanded his Aetherblades to stand down and demanded our surrender. Honeclaw cussed back something not suitable for historical record. In return, the enemy readied their rifles to shoot all of us down.

Without a word, Honeclaw leapt from cover with her flamethrower pack turned around to her chest. She fired madly into the Aetherblades while charging their ranks. The last I saw of Honeclaw, she fired her pistol into her fuel canister, sparking an inferno that engulfed her and the enemy.

The explosion emboldened what was left of the 14th to renewed fury. In moments, the enemy was broken and bleeding. After securing the forum, the 14th found Honeclaw’s remains and wrapped them in a Lionguard cloak.

Scholar Ela Makkay,
embedded with the 14th Lionguard Security Force/"Marriner's Might"

by Edgar Doiron on Mar 10, 2014 at 12:34 PM

The attack came before the 14th could set up a defensive perimeter. Under cover of dusk, Aetherblade reinforcements flanked the 14th on several sides and assaulted them with alternating sniper fire and frontal attacks.

Lieutenant Honeclaw and her soldiers scrambled to establish a circle defense. They deployed turrets as a front line followed by a living ring of shields and swords to protect the 14th's sharpshooters.

Aetherblade flanking tactics blocked any chance for escape. Some of the 14th panicked and ran during the chaos, only to be skewered by enemy blades.

The 14th is rapidly losing soldiers and morale.

The enemy is numerous. Night is falling.

Scholar Ela Makkay,
embedded with the 14th Lionguard Security Force/"Marriner's Might"
by Edgar Doiron on Mar 10, 2014 at 12:33 PM

You smell Lion's Arch before you see what's happened to it. There's a sickly-sweet odor of rotting corpses mixed with a stinging snap of gunpowder. It's a change from the choking, lethal veil of Scarlet's miasma, now drifted out to sea.

By noon, the first shots rang out. The 14th Lionguard Security Force engaged Aetherblade squads for control over Trader's Forum. Lieutenant Honeclaw led the charge, pushing Aetherblades back with bursts from her flamethrower.

The fighting lasted most of the day. The 14th holds the forum, but Honeclaw has been quick to stop her troops from calling this a victory. Now the 14th is waiting…waiting for reinforcements, for the enemy's next move. They know Scarlet will not give up an inch of Lion's Arch without a fight.

In the distance there is the sound of combat and an acrid blue-steel cloud of smoke.

Scholar Ela Makkay,
embedded with the 14th Lionguard Security Force/"Marriner's Might"
by Edgar Doiron on Mar 10, 2014 at 12:25 PM

As they gather at the Gendarran Fields entrance to Lion's Arch, a recent recruit to the 14th Lionguard Security Force shows me a tattoo popular with the group. The words on his skin capture their goal now: "The Arch or nothing"

Today, the 14th will attempt to be the first squadron to establish a foothold in the battered, occupied Lion's Arch.

Their mission is simple, yet dire: breach the city and hold Trader's Forum until reinforcements arrive, whenever that will be. Given how Scarlet’s forces are entrenched in the city, Lionguard Command does not expect the 14th to last through the night. Despite this, they volunteered to be the first in.

Some of the 14th are fresh to combat, others breathe hard with miasma-scarred lungs. Beneath their injuries is wounded pride. This city is their home, one now in enemy hands. It haunts them as they tell me about the loved ones they lost during the invasion.

But now, they look to enter Lion's Arch and avenge everything taken from them by Scarlet.

Scholar Ela Makkay,
embedded with the 14th Lionguard Security Force/"Marriner's Might"
by Edgar Doiron on Aug 24, 2013 at 02:04 PM
Professor Omadd, Headmaster Emeritus of the College of Synergetics, anxiously twisted his ear as he waited for the sylvari woman to wake. She had been thrashing violently in the isolation module for days now, crying out random syllables and howling in…pain? Ecstasy? Omadd wasn’t sure. Even a genius of his caliber could only guess what was happening inside that leafy green head.

Omadd clenched his fist, squeezing his ear until it brought tears to his eyes. The most promising student he had ever instructed, conducting most important experiment of his long and storied career, and all he could do was stand idle and fret.

The woman gasped deeply and convulsed once more. Then she bolted upright, tearing clean through the restraints that bound her head and hands to the apparatus.

“Ceara?” Omadd put a reassuring hand on the sylvari’s shoulder, and then yelped. Her skin was hot to the touch, and the faint golden glow that surrounded her had shifted to vivid crimson.

She slowly turned to face him, her eyes sharp and focused.

“Ceara! Can you hear me? What did you see?”

The sylvari woman brought her open hand up and spread her fingers wide. A thin vine crawled from her sleeve and began weaving between her splayed digits.

“Scarlet,” she said. “My name is Scarlet now. Scarlet Briar.”

“Scarlet, then,” he snapped. “Tell me, please: what did you see?”

Small red thorns sprang up from the vine between Scarlet’s fingers. She smiled.

“Everything,” she said.

Ceara emerged from the Dream and stepped forward, savoring the wet grass of the Grove beneath her feet. With her eyes still closed, she inhaled, taking in the fresh scent of living things all around her.

“Welcome, sapling.” The voice was kind, the tone gentle. “My name is Mender Serimon. You are safe here.”

“Shhh. I’m thinking.” Ceara opened her eyes to a vibrant world of greens and golds and earthy browns. Sunlight streamed down through the canopy, nourishing the great trees and warming the ground level vegetation. All around, creatures of every shape and size called to one another, exploring, chasing, being chased, always in motion.

Ceara blinked, pleasantly overwhelmed by it all. The world was a fascinatingly complex system of smaller, interlocking systems that affected one another in an ever-changing dance. It was beyond fascinating: it was life itself, and now she was a part of it.

“Sapling?” Serimon said. “I’m here to help you acclimate. To help you understand your place in this world and identify the purpose Pale Mother has given you.”

Her eyes remained fixed on on the complex living dance of the forest. “I’ll find my own place, thank you very much. And it’s hardly ‘my’ purpose if someone else gives it to me.”

Serimon’s face soured, but he kept his soothing tone. “You’ve awakened with a wealth of confidence,” he said. “But don’t presume too much. We all make choices in life, but sometimes choices are made for us. Especially we children of the Pale Tree. It is the way of things.”

“The way of things?” Ceara smiled. Serimon’s world was so clearly defined for him. He would never challenge it, never test it, never seek to redefine it.

She laughed merrily and said, “Thank you for attending my awakening, mender. But where my life is concerned, I will be the one who chooses.”

After eight years of voracious study in the Grove, Ceara had learned all she cared to from her extended family. Her people were accomplished hands at many key disciplines, but they couldn’t provide the depth of knowledge she craved. She wanted to construct systems as complex as the ones she saw in nature, to build machines as sublime as the living things she saw each and every day. Her greatest joy as a student came from testing those established systems to expose their flaws in aid of strengthening her own designs.

She learned much from the master engineers among her people, but theirs were simple meals that could not sate her hunger. Ceara decided to strike out into the world to find something that could.

Her first stop was the smiths of Hoelbrak: if she wanted to make machines, she needed to understand metal. She impressed a grizzled old bear of a norn named Beigarth with her interest and energy, and on his invitation spent a long winter as his pupil, apprentice, and forge-tender. When spring came, she announced her intentions to move on, having learned all she needed to know. Beigarth tried to dissuade her, eager to pass along the full slate of his smithing knowledge to such a unique and promising student, but she left him with a wave and a breezy smile. She didn’t need to be a master smith to forge the kinds of creations she envisioned.

Next she spent two years with a gladium named Asagai, late of the Iron Legion. An expert sniper and demolitionist, Asagai could tell by feel if a firearm was not assembled properly, and correct a misaligned site on a field gun just by listening to the sound of its thunder. When Ceara had learned all the lonesome soldier’s secrets and declared her intent to continue her studies elsewhere, the charr veteran cursed her for a feckless cub and threatened to gut her with a rusty blade. Ceara gracefully avoided Asagai’s wild swings and bid her a respectful farewell. Firearms and artillery were fun, but they were far too simple. Knowing there was only one place that could expand her knowledge as broadly and as quickly as she required, she set out for Rata Sum.

She found that convincing the three great colleges to let her in was the hardest part. Apart from their inherent bias against non-asura, they did not relish a lowly sylvari with delusions of academic excellence “diluting” or “contaminating” their student body’s collective brain power. When Ceara constructed a fully functional golemite on the fly from a small power crystal, a handful of raw ore, and a few select spells, the Arcane Council begrudgingly granted her provisional status as Dynamics student.

She completed the Dynamics coursework in under a year as the highest-ranked student in her class. Chagrined, the councilors give her the same opportunity in Statics. When she achieved similar results in a similar time frame, they were intrigued enough to see if she could do the same with Synergetics.

Synergetics took quite a bit longer, however, as Ceara finally found a field of study that was a boundless as her interest. She immersed herself in Synergetics’ miasmic mix of mystical energy patterns and arcane probabilities; in its focus on chaos theory and mapping unpredictable connections; in the pursuit of hidden knowledge and secret mechanisms derived in equal parts from the contemplation of the ephemeral and the application of the practical.
It was here, under Headmaster Omadd, that Ceara first began to grapple with the Eternal Alchemy. The deeper she delved into it, the more convinced she became that the pinnacle of asuran thought was not a metamagical engine or a transcendent equation, but a key that allowed one to access the basic fabric of reality itself.

Though backed 100% by Omadd, Ceara’s thesis was not well received by the colleges or the Arcane Council. “Unsupportable conjecture,” they called it. “Unsubstantiated claims that border on academic heresy, or at very least, criminality.”

She barely noticed: she had already begun to separate herself from the collegiate system in the hopes of finding a research organization that would be more receptive to her ideas. She found it in the Inquest.

Ceara’s time with the Inquest was brief but extremely productive: they taught her things the other colleges wouldn’t even discuss, and allowed field tests without those irritating and unnecessary safety precautions.

Things ended suddenly and badly, however, when Ceara and her krewmate Teyo broke into the city’s archives and tampered with several of the designs they found there. It was presented to her as a means to give the Inquest a competitive edge in the upcoming Snaff Prize competitions, but Ceara also left her stamp on a few unrelated projects she found.

When caught, Teyo teleported herself to safety and left Ceara to face the consequences. The Council stripped Ceara of her academic credentials and the Peacemakers ejected her from Rata Sum. She laughed and left the city without any of her research notes or belongings, whistling as she went.

She wandered for several months before settling in with the Michotl hylek just outside Rata Sum (which required her to disguise herself under a hooded cowl to avoid the attention of the Peacemakers). Hylek alchemy was diverting, but she considered it a cul-de-sac on the road she had chosen.

Mixing potions, poisons, and elixirs to produce specific effects was similar to building devices, but there was too much horticulture and not enough engineering for her tastes. If she wanted to spend her life harvesting pollen or distilling extracts from exotic blooms, she would have never left the Grove.

Fortunately, proximity to Rata Sum made it possible for Omadd to track her down. Her mentor offered the chance to explore the Eternal Alchemy again. Ceara agreed and left the Michotl village without a word of explanation.

After months of painstaking preparation, Omadd’s experiment was ready. Ceara would enter his isolation module, a vast array of thaumechanical devices wired to a coffin-like chamber. Once activated, she would be unfettered by her physical body and could delve into the metaphysical vortex of reality as no one ever had.

He warned her repeatedly about the danger to her life and her sanity. “You have to survive,” he told her. “The module’s one shortcoming is that it can’t record what your mind experiences. If you don’t come back or can’t articulate what you’ve learned, it will all be for naught.”

“Noted.” Ceara’s face was bright, her eyes wide and hungry. “Let’s get started.”

Inside Omadd’s machine, the universe stretched out before her, an endlessly vast star-flecked sea. She moved through it, struggling against its currents, floating effortlessly above them, or standing perfectly still as strange lights and magical energies swirled around her.

She saw Tyria as a life-sized globe, fixed in place among cosmic storms and massive clouds of potentiality. She wondered if she would see herself in Omadd’s lab when Rata Sum rotated into view, but then impatiently went on, plunging deeper into the churning void.

Stop, my child.

Ceara paused. She hadn’t heard the Pale Tree’s voice in years.

Please: go no further. In seeking to comprehend the forces that shape us, you will unleash them. Society cannot withstand that.

Ceara felt an electric tingle and she wondered if her body was smiling back in Omadd’s lab. Deliberately and with great glee, Ceara thought, Shhh. I’m thinking, and then pressed on.

She soon saw a vague, glowing shape ahead. A tree, she thought…the Pale Tree. Its great off-white trunk connected a broad network of branches and leaves to a root system below. Instead of nuts or berries beneath its leaves, there were sylvari. Thousands of her people hung from the tree’s boughs like ripe fruit ready to fall. Their bodies did not move, but their eyes shifted and rolled, eagerly taking in their surroundings.

Some dropped like autumn leaves, slowly drifting down to root level. There they stood, stretched, and then set out into the void, disappearing as they cleared the spreading canopy. Some never made it that far, staggering, falling, and withering within the shade of the great tree.

Disappointment soured Ceara’s fascination. Was this it, then? Were the lives of all sylvari so easily encapsulated? Birth, travel, experience, death, all played out under the dictates and philosophies of the godlike entity that created them?

She refused to accept that. Everything she had learned said that no system, no matter how complex, can perpetuate itself indefinitely. Those that did not evolve inevitably failed.

It was then Ceara saw the thorn vine. It emerged from the roots at the base of the tree and began to climb, wrapping itself around the trunk and scoring the bark with its dusty red barbs. Green-black ichor oozed from these wounds, and the great tree shuddered.

Then Ceara was the vine, squeezing the great tree’s trunk like a desperate lover. The tree struggled against her: she was meant to be part of it, to participate in its grand purpose. Instead, she was no more than an irritant, a provocation.

Now do you see? The Pale Tree’s voice was faint and distant, but it snapped Ceara back to viewing the tree from a distance. If you are not one with what you were born to be, you are lost. Worse, you are dangerous.
Sheer joy surged through Ceara. Dangerous, you say? Her thoughts boomed loud as thunder across the void. So be it.

With the Pale Tree’s desperate words and her own raucous laughter growing echoing across the void, Ceara plunged through the vision of the great tree and beyond.

Motionless, Omadd stared wide-eyed at his former student.

“It worked,” Scarlet said. “I suppose I should thank you for that, though I bet I would have figured it out on my own eventually. Still, no reason to begrudge a genius his due, right?”

Omadd did not reply.

Scarlet giggled as she raised her hand to her face and watched the red thorn vine chase itself between her fingers. “So much makes sense now. The Pale Tree, the Nightmare Court, Caithe and Faolain…it’s all part of a grand design.

“But I see the flaws in that design. My people don’t have to take what we’re given, or be what we were “born to be.” No people do. We can change the rules…well, I can. And I’m going to.”

Omadd said nothing. With dusty red thorn vines wrapped tightly around his throat, wrists, and ankles, he could not. He hung silent and still, suspended from all four walls and the ceiling on a tangled deadfall of thorns, as blood dripped and pooled below him.

“I’ve learned so much,” Scarlet continued. “Now I have to put that knowledge to use. An insurmountable challenge is rising, and my people have been called to meet it. We are compelled by our creator to do so.

“But I reject that call. I reject the notion that that I must choose the Dream or be lost to Nightmare. The forces that push us this way or that can be redirected. They can be set against one another to the detriment of both, and now I know how.”

Scarlet gestured and the thorns around Omadd tightened. They raised his lifeless body high, and then turned it to greet whoever entered the room next.

Scarlet’s voice rose as she went on. “I have a great deal of work ahead of me. I don’t know what the world will be when I’m through, but I will very much enjoy finding out. Empires will fall, continents will burn, and when the conflagration is over, I’ll be there to put my stamp on whatever new world this one becomes.”

Manic glee flashed in her eyes and she said, “Good-bye, old friend. All good students should take up their master’s mantle and share the wisdom they’ve attained. And I am a very, very good student.”

Laughing, full of renewed purpose, Scarlet blew Omadd’s body a kiss and danced lightly out into the cool evening air.