The elemental planes have poured into our own reality. The skies darken and untold horrors pour through rifts reaping destruction wherever they go. We are on the defensive and a common cry from most Ascended is that they want to take the fight to the planes themselves. What a lot of us tend to forget however is that we already have taken our first tentative steps into these unknown realms. Brittle bones have cracked beneath our feet, stale air has filled our lungs, the Ascended have taken the battle to the Plane of Death and against all odds returned with a victory. So what exactly happened in the River of Souls and what does our conquest there mean in the long term?
When Alsbeth returned to Telara she was desperate. She had failed her master, Regulos and needed to do something big in order to stay his wrath. She had heard a legend of a man who had journeyed to the Soulstream in order to re-unite with his deceased lover. The man’s quest took him through the Plane of Death to it’s very edge, shared with the Plane of Life. Here he found the River of Souls and following in his footsteps so did Alsbeth. Just as the man was able to exploit this location to pluck his love back to the land of the living, Alsbeth was able to return an army.
At first this news was enormous to Alsbeth, Regulos previously only had control over the physical aspects of death, mindless skeletal soldiers and abominations of flesh were all he could summon to his armies. Being able to exploit the Soulstream would, in theory, provided the armies of death with much stronger followers. However, Alsbeth soon realised this was not entirely the case, it was impossible to determine who the soul had belonged to previously and many useless and unworthy souls were returned. Soon Alsbeth’s headquarters had become over-run with the stink of decaying farmers and peasants.
Alsbeth’s luck changed when she happened upon a particularly strong soul, that of the recently deceased Titan Plutonus. Fuelled by anger at his defeat at the hands of the Ascended he agreed to help Alsbeth by constructing a cipher that would ensure only souls of great power would be returned. Using the energy provided by the Dark Foci in the vicinity he succeeded in his task and Alsbeth now had her pick of all the souls in history. She returned Gaurath, Galenir and even the much beloved Prince Zareph amongst others. She was able to subdue most of these new souls and her army was ready. Alsbeth launched her invasion.
For weeks Telara was plagued with invasions from the Plane of Death. The ascended armies held strong and when Alsbeth mounted her final assault a united Guardian and Defiant force managed to crush them. Her plans in tatters once more Alsbeth retreated to Caer Mathos in Stillmoor, the ascended army hot on her heels. Cornered and out of options Alsbeth tore a hole in the fabric of reality and retreated back to the Soulstream to rebuild her strength.
Defiant and Guardian alike pursued her further, her lieutenants fell one by one and her cipher was broken by the zealous Cyril Kalmar. Alsbeth attempted one final stand but was overcome, the might of the Ascended had won and Telara was safe for another day.
With the cipher destroyed Regulos now has no way to gain control over the souls of the deceased (which unfortunately contradicts a previous theory of mine about him wishing to resurrect dead Bloodstorm). This limits his forces to mindless undead and his cultists, still a formidable force but at least we are no longer fuelling his army with great souls when they are removed them from this world. We have also proven that we can take the first steps into another plane and return, and Alsbeth’s reckless actions opening the way may even advance our knowledge of how to get there. Our first true offensive on enemy soil has been a resounding victory and must truly be a sign of things to come.