In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I will cover the first two chapters’ major story points for you: I’ll leave my usual hated and rated sections for the end of the story deep-dives. This article will contain significant spoilers for those who have not yet completed the expansion’s story for themselves, so I recommend skipping this article or proceeding with caution if that applies to you. You have been warned!
Path of Fire: The story so far
I don’t want to provide you with a full breakdown of Living World Season 3 over again, so I’ll instead point you to my season summary and a glimpse at the final chapter of the season to help you piece those bits together if you need more background information. The main need-to-know points to know are that the god of war Balthazar has returned to Tyria and intends to slay the Elder Dragons to give himself a hefty power boost, and that Taimi has discovered, after all of that research she’s been conducting in the Dragon Lab, that Tyria cannot cope with another dragon death because the resultant magical energy overspill would be catastrophic. You can see how these two story hooks might be a tad concerning for the poor, long-suffering commander who has now been switched off dragonslaying duties and onto god vanquishing instead!
The Path of Fire previews posed a fairly simple yet pertinent question: How exactly does one stop a rogue god? The commander and Taimi worked together in the final episode of Season 3 to prevent Balthazar from slaying Jormag and Primordus, but our actions did little to deter him from his path. He has since taken an army of fanatacists south to the Crystal Desert, where we believe he must be in search of Kralkatorrik, the elder crystal dragon. Humankind is torn about the return of one of their gods and the commander decides to tear after Balthazar before he brings about the end of the world.
First steps into the Crystal Desert
The first task for the commander is to find transport to Elona, so the player is guided to Captain Ellen Kiel in Lion’s Arch to get ready for travel. She is rather shocked that the commander is attempting to face off against a god without much in the way of a solid plan and also has a little pop at Taimi for her superiority complex and massive ego, unaware that Taimi hears and knows all because of the glorified walkie-talkie she stashed on the commander. This is the perfect point for Taimi to
rudely interrupt chime in and admit that her communicator may not work well over such a long distance, meaning that the commander could well be alone in the desert with limited contact.
Undeterred, the commander boards Kiel’s airship and heads towards Amnoon with her first mate Fidus manning the vessel with a team of Kiel’s best shiphands. The is a wealth of additional dialogue that pertains to the council’s relations and how the Lion’s Arch leadership, Elonian refugees, and the airship crew feel about venturing back to Elona. We learn that Balthazar’s Forged army is a formidable force to be reckoned with as well, so the commander is definitely well-prepared for a potentially one-way journey.
We finally board the airship and manage to reach Amnoon without ruining the vessel, though we do notice immediate changes to the landscape and smoke rising from one of the pyramid structures. We venture onwards and stumble across the Forged, and soon a Herald of Balthazar comes along and attempts to recruit the commander for her god. The commander pursues her to a nearby village, which we find in flames and chaos. The herald escapes in the chaos after setting her firehounds on us, and we then turn our attention to saving the townsfolk. This is where we get to grips with our first mount, the raptor: We must use the raptor to reach remote locations and extinguish the flames before the entire village turns to ash. The commander darts through a mine to get to the city of Amnoon, where we stumble across Rytlock and Kasmeer. Kas has been sent on behalf of Queen Jennah and secures your entry to the city, while Rytlock says tight-lipped about what happened with him and the Black Citadel and his Mists tale.
The City of Amnoon
Once within the city, Captain Rahim points us to important people around the city in order to find out more about Balthazar’s potential whereabouts. The commander gets to grips with the city and eventually finds Zalambur’s office in the casino, who deals in so many grey-area markets that the city administration can’t be sure if he is still on their side or not. Archon Iberu barges in on the meeting, sent by Chief Councillor Imann to discuss Joko providing military aid for the city against the Forged in an attempt to sway the city towards the undead leader, who is unimpressed at the fact that Amnoon is holding out without his influence. The debate ultimately ends up turning violent: Iberu informs us that the Councillor is little more than a puppet and will vouch for the deal with Joko at the next Council meeting. The commander throws some effort into saving Zalambur’s casino as Iberu’s men attempt to burn it to the ground in order to teach him a lesson. After saving him from the Archon, Zalambur is indebted to the commander and offers to keep his ear to the ground in all of his channels.
Our next stop is the Council office to see the Councillor, who admits that Joko has offered help and that the Council has found itself at a bit of an impasse. Joko’s government are using the Forged threat to scare Amnoon into falling under Joko’s administration, which is causing great debate among the Council. Rytlock, who is also present, thinks that giving in would be a terrible idea, and summarised by saying that short-term gains would bring long-term trouble and that Amnoon should stay independent. Kasmeer believes that the answer will lie with the Priestesses of Kormir and the Sunspears. The commander is left to make the decision for the city, despite being somewhat uninterested in local politics and far more interested in finding Balthazar. I chose to stay independent, but there are three options open to the player.
After making your decision, Kas tells the commander that Kormir is probably the best person to guide the way to Balthazar and this gives us a point to consider. The most pressing concern for the commander is to continue gathering information and also finding a high spot where Taimi’s communicator will work to feed back to her. The commander helps refugees on the Elonian river outside the city and we learn about devastated Forged invasions in the desert. We also learn that Vlast, also known as Glint’s offspring Gleam, helped to save people from Branded. We, of course, have to rush and tell Taimi this news so we try to find some suitable points from which our communicator will work. She is delighted and overexcited at the news and wants to know everything there is to know about Vlast, and meanwhile says that she is attempting to place her dragon lab information into Scruffy so she can become more portable while she’s also trying to convince everyone that her dragon death hypothesis is correct.
Zalambur finds some information and mails the commander to hail the guildmates back to the casino. Canach meets us there and admits to enjoying his freedom by gambling but says he has grown bored and wishes to help the commander take down a god. Zalambur gives us a tour around the casino while giving us the promised information: It turns out that Balthazar is not chasing Kralkatorrik as we had thought but it rather after Vlast. We decide to hit the Forged encampments throughout the desert to find Balthazar before he finds Vlast. Kasmeer heads to the Temple of Kormir to investigate on her own while the Commander, Canach, and Rytlock storm the encampments in search of the war god.
Over to you!
What did you think of the first two chapters? I found it to be a well-contained summary of the state of affairs in Elona, and the additional dialogue was most welcome for building up the narrative even more. I found the NPC’s links to the new zone tenuous at best, but it sure beats having to face the god alone so I shan’t complain too much. Next time, I’ll cover the rest of Act I and the beginning of Act II.