Traversing the Domain of Anguish:
The City of Torc'Qua and Ravenheart Gloom

May Dwayna protect those who wish to enter the areas I am about to mention. The City of Torc'Qua and Ravenheart Gloom shall truly challenge your might, so I shall arm you with knowledge designed to help you through the perilous reaches of these unholy regions.

The City of Torc'Qua contains some of the most forsaken souls in all of the Domain of Anguish. These traitors of the divine swore their allegiance to the false god Abaddon and, in his defeat, have been driven back to their dark sanctuary. Ironically, this sanctuary was once used as a prison.

Following the defeat of his god, the powerful demon Mallyx—nearly unmatched in strength, resilience, and malevolence in all the Realm—assumed the dark throne of his master, enslaving those loyal to Abaddon to do his bidding. This is a proverbial hornet's nest of evil, containing most of the remnants of Abaddon's armies. Tread lightly, for a careless step may well be your last.

The forces within this realm present a dilemma for parties wishing to defeat them. Normally, the best strategy in combat is to destroy a group's defense before moving on to its offensive components. Within the City of Torc'Qua, however, the sheer amount of damage your foes can unleash will quickly overwhelm even the most stalwart heroes. So, if you wish to concentrate on softer, more defensive assailants, you would be wise to equip skills that limit enemy damage, buying you the time you will need to defeat the enemy’s defenses before their offense obliterates you. Skills such as Blinding Surge and Reckless Haste render your opponent's melee fighters virtually useless, while a Hex such as Spiteful Spirit punishes both physical and magical attacks used against you. The latter helps you immensely, as the Margonite Elementalists can rip through your party with their devastating spell, Invoke Lightning.

Another potentially fatal problem within the city is Energy depletion. Your foes will use Mind Wrack and Famine to disastrous effect, making it wise for Warriors to focus on Adrenal skills, and possibly carry a zealous weapon. Necromancer skills such as Blood is Power and Blood Ritual are also powerful assets to parties within the City of Torc'Qua. Of course, there are other ways to help prevent fatal Energy loss, but no matter which you choose, I must stress the importance of taking at least one method of Energy management into the city, lest you die from Energy starvation.

Finally, the city walls are littered with Margonite Rangers, who patiently wait for foes to wander within their range. It would be best to avoid this area as you would avoid the backside of a yak after a hearty meal. If you do not, you will likely leave the Realm of Torment with more holes than you entered with—if you leave at all.

Ravenheart Gloom did not get its bleak name by chance. The blackness of this cold and forgotten land has been known to drive adventurers mad, and to this day, many of those lost souls can still be found wandering the darkness. While there are rumors that Ravenheart Gloom leads to even more sinister and evil locales, these theories are pure speculation. Any who have sought to find these rumored areas have never returned from the shadows.

What we do know is that this area has been the staging point for every evil intrusion into the living realm since the awakening of Abaddon. Every rift into our world—be it in Tyria, Elona, or Cantha—originated in Ravenheart Gloom. Call me vengeful if you will, but I say we repay the demons for their unwelcome visits with an excursion of our own. Grenth fill us with the resolve to seek retribution for all those lives shattered or lost.

The most crucial piece of advice I can share concerning Ravenheart Gloom is to bring spells for both Hex and Condition removal. Shatter Hex and Hex Eater Vortex are good choices for Hex removal, as they also deal extra damage to help with your offensive forays. Mend Ailment is my personal choice for Condition removal. You will find the foes within the shadows use multiple Conditions, and Mend Ailment not only clears one Condition, it also heals your ally based on the number of Conditions that remain. Blessed Light is also a useful skill because it removes one Hex and Condition while healing for a substantial amount.

The only other advice I can offer is to be mindful of where your allies are positioned. While you hold out within Ravenheart Gloom, be sure to position allies with lighter armor in protected areas. If your foes slay your casters, your most heavily armored allies will certainly fall soon after.

I hope my advice aids you as you traverse these dark and ominous areas. Let us hope the gods hear our prayers, even while in the depths of these forsaken lands.

Wintersday Approaches

The frost on the ground and the chill in the air can mean only one thing: Wintersday is once again upon us. With the festivities just getting started, the populous is quickly splitting into two factions. No, I am not referring to the Luxons and Kurzicks of Cantha. I am, of course, referring to the traditional seasonal struggle between those who support the cold and dark god of death, Grenth, and those who favor the kind and gracious goddess of life, Dwayna. Each year, those who have pledged to support Dwayna, work to celebrate the coming of spring and the departure of the bitter cold, while those who work on Grenth's behalf strive to stifle what they call "trivial festivities," instead spending their time on serious reflections of the past year.

While both factions desire to celebrate the winter season, they disagree about the best way to commemorate its arrival. In gracious compromise, Dwayna and Grenth have set up friendly challenges such as snowball fights to determine which viewpoint shall emerge triumphant. In addition, many of those who feel particularly zealous toward one of the gods will offer special quests and tasks in the hope of strengthening their cause. Those loyal to Dwayna will no doubt have quests that concentrate on joy and celebration, while those sworn to Grenth will no doubt assign tasks designed to end the "worthless displays of merriment."

Along with the popular Snowball Arenas and the holiday quests, many cities have also erected elaborate decorations. Giant candy canes, living snowmen, enormous trees decorated with lights, ribbons, and ornaments—it will truly be a sight to behold! Elementalists specializing in Water Magic have even found a way to create snow in the typically hot and dry city of Kamadan. Truly, Wintersday will be a celebration of epic proportions. Even some Canthans—who do not typically celebrate Wintersday—plan to make their way to Tyria or Elona to join the holiday celebration, just as many Tyrians traveled to Cantha to join the Dragon Festival some months ago. This is one holiday you certainly do not want to sleep through!

Festivities will occur in Lion's Arch, Ascalon City, Droknar's Forge, and Kamadan. Be sure to attend, as the much-sought-after Christmas items will be distributed—including some never seen before! Choose your side wisely, for the rewards that both Grenth and Dwayna give to those who serve them are most generous.

Random Acts of Kindness

With Wintersday approaching, it appears the citizens of our fine world have been filled with the holiday spirit. There seems to be an increased feeling of camaraderie and good will, and I wish to share a few examples with you.

While enjoying the shade in Champion's Dawn, a Necromancer named Master Kodoonk startled me with his shouts. Upon investigation, I noticed he was advertising a free weapon give-away at his storage vault. His kind generosity resulted in better equipped travelers penetrating into the surrounding jungle, no doubt saving some of their lives.

While taking a break from testing my endurance in the Zos Shivros Channel, Alexis Ketra helped a confused Canthan on his way. The lost adventurer complained that Cavalon had barred his entry. Alexis quickly advised the young traveler to earn the Luxon's favor and secure a welcome into their most prized city.

Within the shattered walls of Ascalon City, Dahlia Von Black offered instructions for using the magical properties of the map to travel from town to town. I am sure she saved that young lady quite a bit of time and travel. Also, Mariasha Petohmi assured another citizen that, despite rumors to the contrary, Wintersday had not yet begun. It seems someone may be in need of a calendar!

I was also fortunate enough to encounter an extremely honorable guild named German Fame Fighters [GER] while fighting through Heroes' Ascent. They showed great respect to their opponents and I was honored to meet them in battle. Thats Fuba also fought with great honor, though his teammates were not as outgoing as he and, in fact, had nothing to say at all. My how silent some heroes can be!

Your kind deeds warm my heart, even through the bitter cold of winter. Thanks go out to all of you in this time of charity and good will.