Continuing with the third quest in the Miragent line will ultimately yield the shoulder piece. While each leg of the line has its quirks, this one really packs a wallop in terms of your sanity. To receive your shoulder armor reward, you need only collect 30 Sanctum medals. That doesn't sound like too big a deal, especially compared to the 100 boiling Balaur blood stains needed for the next quest, does it? NCsoft even gave us two different quests that would reward a medal upon completion -- one geared towards the solo player, the other towards groups. After running between a few folks in the Protectors Hall in Sanctum, you finally reach the two who charge you with tasks in return for the needed medals.
Personally, I found this quest to be the most painful; mindless solo-grind is basically the antithesis of my preferred playstyle, and sometimes finding a group is just as frustrating. For those who told me they liked this part of the quest-line better than the second, I offer you this very comfy, slightly used straitjacket; Shoulder the Burden was not even in the same league as sitting on my duff reading while waiting for an NPC spawn.
The hills are alive, with the sound of abex and hornskulls
Since I like to play at my own pace, I knew gathering enough medals would take me quite some time. Sure enough, for the first couple of weeks, the medals filtered slowly into my cube as I alternated between The Decorations of Sanctum quests. At the request of Dairos, I began spending quality (well, at least quantity
) time in Theobomos
, collecting horns, tongues, saliva, and wings from abex, hornskulls, sylphens, and bloodwings, respectively. As if to lull you into a false sense of hope, these mobs are actually positioned in a relatively efficient line: Starting at the Jamanok Inn, move south along the western road to gather the goat and lizard parts, then move west into the canyon for the bugs, and finally into Marla Cave to finish off with the bats (see insert). Return, turn it in, port back, and repeat. Hint: Do
remember to get the quest again -- many a Daeva has been out hunting, wondering why the drop rate is suddenly 0%.
While this part is
solo-able, I recommend bringing along friends for speed and conversation. Since the items drop an estimated 20% (I am not sure who started that number, but I can verify the amount is low), the faster you kill and the less downtime, the better. A bored, fully geared sorcerer makes an excellent companion, as things simply die so fast you can hardly keep up just running behind him to loot. Or, if you know anyone under level 50 who wants to just tag along and soak up some experience while you grind away, by all means, invite him along. You aren't just using him for his DPS/heals/buffs... really. You are altruistically sharing XP that is wasted on you, and he is, in turn, preserving your sanity. Unless, of course, you truly prefer to grind solo. Then, baby, this is the quest for you
One is the loneliest number
The second option for obtaining medals was where I focused most of my time. While the two share the same quest name, this one has the lovely [group] tag stuck in front. Yes, with this one you have to group. Yay for me, since company makes it all go by so much faster. To obtain a medal from this quest, you must return to Iocaste with a malicemark, a drop item that is acquired from the corpse of the boss in either the Theobomos Labs or Dark Poeta instances. In Dark Poeta, you do not have to qualify for any particular rank boss at the very end, as the mark drops off the Brigade General Anuhart just before the portal. Just be sure to be alive when either boss dies, or you will not receive a mark. Trust me, going through an entire instance and not receiving a mark is plenty painful.
A funny thing happened as I neared the end of this third quest. See, I reached the point where I needed only eight medals. I thought, "Maybe I can really push myself, and aim for four a day". After all, I listened as one player commented on sweeping through his by doing 10 a day; four should be possible. So I gained two medals and decided I really could manage a couple more without difficulty. After those four, my friend had only two left to complete his quest, and I thought, "It's a holiday weekend, why not? I can sleep later." Alternating between T-labs runs and the grind, we finished his off, which then left me needing only two more!
Now, who can seriously walk away, being so close? Remember back when I first discovered the new repeatable quests
? As with potato chips, once you start, you can't stop! All in the name or research, of course; it had nothing to do with a psychotic compulsion [stifles maniacal laughter]. At this point, everyone banded together and sprinted through one more instance and grind sequence and bam
! Less than 12 hours had passed, and I proudly clutched the final remaining medals needed. I was done; one more four-million kinah oath stone purchased, and the shoulder armor was mine.
Now that I have three pieces of the armor, I am even more eager to obtain the next. In fact, upon donning my shiny new shoulder piece, I instantly began a frantic search for the last few boiling Balaur blood stains needed to try to craft my hot heart of magic. However, my excitement is tempered with a bit of trepidation; attempts to craft this heart have broken more than a few others. Join me later as we cover what might be considered the most stressful part of this quest-line -- the leggings.