It's been a wild few months: new enemies all over the Outlands, stomping and strutting all over folks' territories and causing all sorts of mayhem. We Outlands types are nothing if not adaptable, and we've made do, even if we do have to gear a bit differently or run for it when we're overwhelmed – or even, in my case, start traveling with Handsome Jim's much-less-handsome (and decidedly worse-smelling) brother, Smuggler Pete. Pete knows his way around a warbow for sure, and also knows how to loot and gather the good stuff and get it back to Caerleon without anyone lifting it off him.
Me, Jim and Pete were heading back from a particularly good Morgana lair, heavy with loot and artifacts and some sparkly enchanted hides we'd gathered along the way, when one of those flying spheres comes barrelling at us. We dodge out of the way handily and land a few blows, and the thing flies into pieces. No trouble there. So we round the hill, and there's another, flying right into Jim and knocking the wind out of him. This one gives us a bit more trouble, but we dispatch it and head on our way.
Then another, and another... and another! Soon we saw the source: a big hulking statue, made of some sort of white metal, spitting the things out one after another. We braced for a fight, swigged our potions, and laid into it.
With a flood of the little round guys to deal with on top of this tough-as-nails statue thing, we settled in for a longer fight. We had to manage our energy, hit the thing when we could, and protect ourselves from the swarm. Finally, after an intense few minutes, the thing collapsed into pieces, and we raided its remains for that sweet glowing energy.
Spoils of war in hand, we made our way through the wilds of Mercia and back toward the portal. Beneath the clip-clop of my horse's hooves, I thought I could hear some sort of deeper sound – like a steady booming – but I dismissed it as the result of one too many knocks to the head in our fight with the statue.
Soon it got louder, to the point that even Pete, who's deaf in one ear and half-deaf in the other, could hear it. We hopped off our mounts, and we could feel it in our bones – boom, boom, boom. This was something new. We drew our weapons and peered from the trees into the clearing, and once again, had no words for what we were seeing.
It was some sort of machine, powered by magic, huge and lumbering, stomping around like it owned the place. Say what you will about those creepy mages, at least they stick to guarding their energy crystals. But this thing... it was just wandering, looking for a fight. Almost as if it were scouting.
We kept our distance and managed to give the big, stomping lunk the slip by taking a wide route around it, and soon enough we were back at the Caerleon portal. But as I stepped through the shimmering ring and onto the hard stone of the Caerleon streets, the sense of safety and well-being I usually felt was gone. In its place was a new unease. No, stronger: a tremendous sense of foreboding, as if Caerleon itself were under threat.
Since then, we've heard reports of these things all over the Outlands. Folks say the ones in Mercia are especially aggressive – almost as if they're on the lookout for weaknesses. I fear this will come to a head soon. How can we hold back a force of such mindless might, such unceasing energy?
Stay tuned for the final Outlands Report in the coming weeks.