Are you losing track of the escalating tensions between the Shining Blade and the White Mantle, or wondering why on earth everyone around you is going on and on about Gwen and Thackeray? Well, follow along after the jump to see what ArenaNet is up to.
Gwen and Keiran
If you were one of the players complaining that Gwen and Keiran Thackeray had the same conversation in your Hall of Monuments two Wintersdays running, I bet you're not complaining now. Players have been popping in and out of their Halls to see the six new conversations between the two. If you've missed them entirely, or have only seen the first one, you'll need to enter and exit your Hall six times to view the full exchange. Each round triggers the next one.
While Gwen is softening toward our smitten hero, she certainly hasn't lost her edge. The amount of snark she throws at him is a thing of beauty, particularly when she talks about birthdays in the Charr slave camp. (If you've not seen the exchanges yet, never fear. There's a handy gallery at the end with all six conversations lined up neatly for your viewing pleasure.) Keiran dishes it right back, but in the end manages to sucker Gwen into a birthday picnic. This is where you come in, since most NPCs on Tyria can't get anything without your assistance. Once the picnic is scheduled, you can leave a very confused Gwen in your Hall and exit the Eye of the North into Ice Cliff Chasms, where you'll find Keiran waiting for your assistance: "I seek something sweet, drinks, an exotic meal, and lots of candles for my picnic with Gwen in the secret garden."
Keiran's pretty anxious to please his lady love, which makes him astonishingly picky. There are quite a few sweets, drinks, and random food items floating around Tyria, but six Votive Candles, a Birthday Cupcake, Drake Kabob, and Hard Apple Cider are the only things that will really satisfy him. Anything else will earn you a "meh" and a Sack of Random Junk, or a sound mocking and no gifts at all. The candles can be obtained in exchange for a few honeycombs with Necromancer Munne in Sardelac Sanitarium. The Drake Kabobs can be had via a couple of collectors in Elona, and the cupcake and cider? Well, if you're not a hoarder, you can head to Kamadan and pay some seriously inflated prices.
For each of the four items you give Keiran, you'll receive -- once per character -- a Paper Wrapped Parcel with some potentially very nice goodies. There's a chance for summoning stones, hero armor upgrades, and conset components. You're equally likely to get trophies that collectors want, including ten glacial stones (which, if you've spent the entire weekend farming Easter treats in Jaga Moraine, is likely to just tick you off.)
Speaking of being ticked off, poor Keiran's efforts are all for naught. Once you've gathered all the picnic supplies, he's off to sweep Gwen off her feet, but you know Gwen: she's having none of it and he finally loses patience with her. Maybe I was wrong about you, Gwen. You survived the Charr... but I think something in you died a long time ago," he tells her, and leaves the Hall of Monuments.
So is that it for our heroes? Knowing ArenaNet, it's highly unlikely. The existence of Logan Thackeray indicates a strong "no" as well, but we'll just have to sit tight and see. That's no problem, because we've got plenty to keep our attention diverted while we wait.
War in Kryta
The conflict between the Shining Blade and the White Mantle is growing, and this is where I pause to give a huge shout-out to the Guild Wars community. I've said before that you guys are one of the brightest communities out there, and the speed with which everyone is solving all the little puzzles and teasers from ArenaNet is amazing. From a handful of simple fliers with a QR code in the corner to Facebook wars, propaganda, and an in-game Shining Blade camp, this viral campaign is growing quickly and ArenaNet is having to move even more quickly to stay one step ahead of their fans.
The growth of the campaign in every direction can be a bit dizzying, so here's a quick rundown of where it all stands at the moment:. The Shining Blade are fighting back, replacing their torn flyer with a brand new one that contains a new QR code. Instead of leading to a new site, the code simply reads "Midnight clouds will part. The second symbol will reveal its Face like a hidden moon. /stnarytothtaed." That's a pretty easy one to figure out: the words "death to tyrants" are backwards, and the forward slash indicates a URL, so off we go to visit this page, and this is where knowledge of the Tyrian alphabet comes in handy. The word you see there is "blade."
Let's keep that in mind for a couple of minutes, because around the same time the Shining Blade Facebook page was updated with a sliver of flyer containing yet another QR code. This one read "Create one from two. Unity Resolve Liberty. /neeuqsiamlas." The capitalization is important here: URL, for those who hadn't figured it out. The backwards "Salma is queen" led us here to more Tyrian lettering that read "camp."
All right, so now we have "blade camp," and the natural progression is to check out "/bladecamp." Sure enough, it led us to this gorgeous image. That's all well and good, and it's very nice to look at, but there's no more handy QR code leading us to the next step, no embedded link, nothing. This is where a sharp-eyed community member noticed something unusual and pulled a friend in to help, giving us our next clue. (All I can say here is wow. You guys are amazing, and fast.) The /warinkryta link takes us to the newest image, that so far has stumped the community. It's been compared to the Tyrian map, compared to the Tyrian alphabet and various banners and symbols, and run through every possible Photoshop manipulation there is, with no luck so far.
We're keeping our eyes peeled for the next clue. In the meantime, make sure you watch Facebook and check out the Shining Blade camp in Talmark Wilderness, as well as Salma's fancy new threads in ToA. We should know more very soon!