The third stage of the quest for the legendary Journeyman’s Boots and, in my experience, the first stage that groups doing the quest end up having to re-run. It is also the first leg of the quest where I actually faced some danger. Antoncia and the Commonlands were all grey to me at 31, but now, at 32, I faced a lot of green and a few blue aggros.
This leg starts with Lessa Gentare at the docks in the Thundering Steppes. The first stop is Thundermist Village, home of Minty Frostbeard, Holley Rowen, and a few other notable quest related NPCs. The direct route is straight up the dry river bed, through the skeletons, hooking right up and into the village for the update. At 32 a lot of the skeletons were still green to me. Still, they were all low green and were not any real problem even when I pulled my classic maneuver, running between two mobs trying not to aggro either and ending up with both of them chasing you.
After that you need the update from Deadview Pass, which is where the giants and the griffons meet. You get back into the dry river bed and, where it turns to the left, you go straight, heading through the Shattered Gully and into the plain, hugging the mountains on you left until they open up into Deadview Pass. A step or two into the pass should give the update.
Then it is on to the Shrine of the Sirens. This is one of the two locations where somebody in a group is likely to miss an update. You head out from the pass, playing hypotenuse to the right triangle formed by the mountains, ending up at the beach just past the Watcher of the Fields. (I actually stopped there a second and turned in a quest.) Then it is into the water and to the shrine. I have run this leg of the quest at least 8 times, and every time I think I know exactly where the update for the location is, and every time I am wrong. You do have to swim over and past the shrine a little bit, then dive down and swim around until you get the update.
After you get the update, reverse course and head back to Deadview pass, through it, across the plain with the giants, across the bridge, and through the Skindancer gnolls to the Shrine of Decay. This is where I almost bought the farm. Deadview Pass had been cleared, but the giants on the plain were thick. Rather than waste time with stealth, I just sprinted through. Once to the bridge on the other side of the giants, I ran out of power just as I picked up aggro from a party of gnolls. Now I could not stealth nor could I sprint. I had to just ride it out.
I tried to pick a path to avoid as much aggro as possible and pretty much succeeded in picking up as much aggro as possible without going 90 degrees out of my way. I realize that, at level 32, these guys are all green to me, but the are all heroic encounters and have casters along, so I was under one bubble of health by the time I lost the last group on my tail. If my imbued chest armor had not proc’s heal a couple of times I would have been dead.
Of course, as long as I got the Shrine of Decay update, death would not have been a big deal. The respawn tent is at Coldwind Cove, the next stop on the run, so it might have put me a little ahead of schedule. But I lived and the cove is right on the other side of the gnolls, so I grabbed that update and headed for the last location, the Grave Pool.
I wince when I hear that name. So many group runs have go awry at this location. Not getting the Shrine of the Sirens update has only ever fouled up one of the runs I have been a part of, but the Grave Pool… I have never been in a group of three or more that did not have at least one person not get this update.
From Coldwind Cove, you run up the gully between the gnolls and the centaurs until it dumps out at the end of a body of water with lots of skeletons roaming around. That is the Grave Pool. Where you get the update has been a matter of some discussion in the past. The consensus seems to be that the best bet is to run straight across the grave pool to the other side. Being the one person in a group running in a close pack that did not get the update that way on one run, I remain skeptical.
I went into stealth and ran up the gully. I was still down to two bubbles of health, but I had a lot of time on the clock, so I could afford to play it safe. When I got to the Grave Pool, I went straight across to the other shore. No update. I ran back. No update. I ran up the middle of the pool towards the island of rocks. Finally, about half way there, I got the update. I activated the escape skill and reloaded back at the beach next to the docks, ran up the steps and along the docks until I hit the finish line.
Time left was 2:23. I ran back over to Lessa and updated the quest.
This was the first of the runs where I could see no real advantage to running it as a fae. Still, having that much time left on the clock at the end was surprising, since the groups I have been with in the past have hit the finish line with under a minute to spare every time.
The next run is my favorite, and one where I believe being a fae will give me an edge. Nekulos forest, here I come!