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Nov 13 2009 -
A New Horizon
ome of you might remember Amaro de Quester, the brave adventurer who loves to explore the Tibian lands. A year ago, he visited our office in Regensburg to interview the content team about quests but since then we had lost trace of him.

Yesterday, a worn out hooded messenger entered our office. Without a word he handed us a half-torn envelope and then he vanished as suddenly as he had appeared. We were confused but then opened the envelope full of excitement. What we found was a creased letter, covered with strange black stains that turned our fingers black as we touched them. Even though the ink was almost faded, we immediately recognised the handwriting of our dear friend Amaro. As we read, our eyes grew wider and wider, our hearts started to beat faster and chills of fear ran down our spine. Even now, we are still struck by the terrifying news. Of course, we do not want to withhold the content of this letter from you so read on, if you dare...

My dear friends,

it's been a long time since we last spoke. You know that I usually prefer solitude and contemplation when strolling through the wilderness. But this time, it's different... I've seen things, my friends, that you cannot even imagine not even in your darkest nightmares. I'm still shaking, I can barely write. Darkness has fallen upon me, something evil terrorises my mind. But writing to you somehow soothes my soul so let me tell how I ended up in this miserable state of mind.

Where do I begin? Yes, yes, a few weeks ago, I stopped by in Kazordoon to visit an old friend of mine. As the evening went on he told me about the new steamboat technology and a new dwarfish expedition far away from Kazordoon. Deep beneath the earth, they had mapped the underground rivers and while searching for new mines, one of the survey ships had discovered a seemingly untouched cave system with rare ores. They established a first base there, called "Farmine" but the times are rough and resources scarce so they are struggling for support to hold and expand the base. You know, my dear friends, that I, Amaro, the adventurer, cannot resist such a tempting offer. My friend willingly told me the directions and after some hours of sleep, I already was on my way to Farmine. But what I found was quite disillusioning. Only a few skilled dwarfs were working day and night to foster the expansion of the base, with little to eat and little to drink, little of everything. They welcomed me with dwarfish cordiality and Ongulf, their leader, did not hesitate to ask me for help. The dwarfs had already built an elevator towards the surface but found themselves right in the middle of mountains. Since he could not spare a single dwarf, he sent me off to find a way out of the mountains.

I still remember the view from the top of the mountains... it's forever burned into my brain. A vast continent stretched out before me, a continent I had never set foot on before. I saw a huge steppe-like area, the soil seemed dry and parched, there were strange plants and grasses, animals I had never seen before. Far away in the distance, the icy peaks of another range of mountains glowed in a deep red as the sun set. It seemed as if a fierce dragon tried to melt the ice with his blazing breath. "Dragonblaze Peaks" I said to myself. Flocks of large birds circled the peaks. They looked majestic and I wondered if they might be dragon creatures. I still don't know so I leave it up to your imagination, dear friends. But alas, the beauty of the moment did not last long. The longer I stared at the peaks the more the feeling of something evil started to creep up my bones. My body shivered and my throat felt tight as if someone was choking my neck. A dark presence... it spilled over the mountains like thick oil. So I decided to find a way down as quickly as possible. I waited until sunrise and after a few hours of climbing, I finally reached the dusty ground. I should have gone back to the dwarfs, I know, but I was too curious to learn more about this new continent, full of unknown challenges and dangers.

And so I started to explore the unknown land. I hoped to find a town or a village nearby and felt relieved when I recognised several buildings in the distance. Yet all that I found were ruins. It must have been a sophisticated town once. Even though decayed, the elegant architecture deeply impressed me. The buildings were covered with dragon- and snake-like ornaments and decorum, everywhere I looked I found evidence of some kind of lizard culture. Nevertheless, the town did not seem abandoned. Collapsed roofs had been repaired with fur and leather, I found makeshift mats and war banners with symbols that seemed strangely familiar but I couldn't remember where I had already seen them before. Suddenly, I heard battle cries in the distance and saw a dusty cloud coming closer. Fear caught me so I took to my heels and ran away as fast as I could. The steppe did not offer any good places to hide so I decided to head east, always looking for cover behind the head-high grasses.

Fortuna guided me to the city that now lies in front of me. It seemed that a battle had taken place here recently... maybe the horde I ran away from tried to conquer the city? It was protected by thick barricades so I did not venture to ask for entrance. I searched for a safe resting place close by with a good view on the city. Its lizard-like architecture reminded me of the ruined buildings I just had left but in a much better condition. The towers and temples looked filigree yet solid and sturdy indicating a high advanced culture. What kind of race may live there? Lizards? Thinking about the lizards around Port Hope, I can barely imagine that. What do you think, my friends? Is it possible that there is another, more advanced lizard race? But then, how did they gain such power and wealth? So many questions...

I started to examine the surrounding area and noticed strange black puddles here and there. First, my escape from the unknown horde and then the impressive city had occupied me so much that I had not recognised that plants and grasses were not as beautiful as those I saw below the mountains I came from. Here, they looked all rotten. I approached one of those puddles and a foul stench filled my nose. The puddle seemed like an open wound of the earth and a black oily substance had obviously tainted the vegetation around it. I could not stand the stench any longer so I returned to my resting place.

Another traveller had lit a fire there and I sat down next to him. I stroke up a conversation but now I wish my curiosity had been less keen. He knows what lies behind the Dragonblaze Peaks, he had been there, he had seen it with his very own eyes. And what he told me brought back all those memories from the top of the mountain when that dark presence got hold of my soul. But you are far away, my friends, and I know you are curious, too. I don't know if I'll ever return from this adventure so let me share my newly gained knowledge with you.

This land is called Zao by its inhabitants and the black oily substance flows thick through its veins. It harms every living being. Plants, insects and even small animals which are exposed to it long enough are killed by its evil influence, transformed into rotten travesties only to breathe live again as foul and disgusting abominations. We can only imagine what it does to larger creatures... or humans. But where does it come from? My gaze drifted towards the icy Dragonblaze Peaks again when the traveller told me about the shadow that has fallen onto this land. He made it clear that the answer to my questions lies behind those mountains and he warned me that I...

And right here, we could not read on. A big black stain had corroded the rest of the letter. What happened to Amaro? We are very concerned and sincerely hope that he is still alive and will write us again soon. But also, we would like to know more about this strange continent, what about you Tibians? Feel free to tell us your thoughts in the feedback thread we are going to start on Monday, November 16. For further pictures, we recommend you to have a look at our supported and promoted fansites.

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