The Dragon Festival

The celebration and revelry has ended in Shing Jea Monastery, yet many have lingered to enjoy the festival treats they won from carnival games and to trade for those last few Jade Wind Orbs needed to obtain the prized Dragon Mask from a newly-arrived collector.

Despite the mysterious appearance of the demonic horde that terrorized Shing Jea Island shortly after the start of the festivities, the Dragon Festival was a huge success. With the leadership of Captain Rujiyo and the aid of numerous volunteers who took up arms against the threat, Shing Jea has been cleansed of the demon invaders and the citizens of Shing Jea have resumed their normal daily activities.

Not to imply that the battle was easily won—far from it. The demons fought with an unnatural strength that far outweighed the soldiers stationed on the island. If more experienced soldiers from the mainland and Tyria had not been in attendance for the festival, our beloved monastery would surely have been overtaken by the beasts. Fortunately, the rifts have all been sealed, and the demons appear to have been pushed out of our lands—for now.

Despite the demonic invasion, most festival-goers were in high spirits and participated in the many carnival games set up outside the monastery. Many played throughout the night and on until dawn in the Nine Rings and Rings of Fortune. Others tested their skill in the Dragon Arena or chased hatchlings in the Dragon's Nest.

The games weren't the only part of Shing Jea Island to be packed with happy celebrants. Many brave soldiers, from right here in Cantha and as far as the distant shores of Tyria, answered the emperor's call for aid in defense of our beautiful homeland. Whether they came for adventure, fun, or duty, voyagers from all known regions of our world were in attendance of this most extraordinary Dragon Festival.

The final day of the Dragon Festival came sooner than I wished, but I withdrew back to the monastery to witness the finale, which lived up to my expectations in every way. The battle against the demonic invaders was all but won, and the emperor arrived to reward those who aided in the Canthan victory with a Dragon Mask. (I am proudly wearing mine as I write this scroll.) And then, amid the celebration, the demonic beasts attacked the monastery! We valiantly guarded the Celestial Essence that they coveted and after a furious fight repelled their wicked army. As a reward for our courageous defense, the Imperial Sorcerers put on a grand show in the sky, complete with presents that descended into the very hands of the festival-goers.

What a fitting end to a glorious Dragon Festival! Despite the attack, Cantha remains stronger than ever. Our victory has a special significance because it echoes the purpose of the original Dragon Festival: to celebrate the survival and endurance of our fine empire in the face of treachery and danger. I would be so bold as to say this was the greatest Dragon Festival to date. Praise be to Dwayna for smiling upon us these last few days, and long live the Dragon Empire!

Elemental Mayhem:
Rise of the Elementalist

To follow the path of the Elementalist is to become a versatile combatant and a sought-after party member. With four different elements from which to choose—Earth, Fire, Air, and Water—the Elementalist can concoct a strategy tailored to any taste. And by using Energy Storage—which increases your maximum Energy reserves—Elementalists often can use just as many skills from their secondary profession as from their first. In observing the students at the Shing Jea Monastery, here are a few choice strategies from the Elementalist primer for each of the four elemental lines.

Earth Magic is often classified as "support magic" not often used for direct damage. But combine the Earth line with the shadow stepping abilities of an Assassin and the results provide an effective means to eliminate large clusters of targets. Using Death's Charge, an Elementalist can shadow step into a group of adversaries and raise Ward Against Foes, which greatly slows opponents' movements. The Elementalist can then cast a devastating Earthquake/Aftershock combination. He can use Shadow of Haste to flee combat, and then for the finale, teleport back to the original location to recast Ward Against Foes and unleash another Earthquake/Aftershock once the spells have recharged.

Fire Magic is most effective combined with skills that slow or otherwise prevent your opponent from leaving your range. The Warrior's Hamstring skill, the Mesmer's Imagined Burden, or any skill designed to keep your opponent close to you can enable you to use Fire Magic quite effectively. At the beginning of combat, cast Mark of Rodgort on your target so he will burn whenever he receives fire damage. Next, use one of the aforementioned slowing spells to keep your opponent within range for your subsequent attacks. After you have Hexed him with Mark of Rodgort and slowed his potential escape, unleash a deadly combination of Inferno, Lava Font, Phoenix, or other close-range fire spells that appeal to you. If the direct damage from the fire skills does not kill him, the burning caused by Mark of Rodgort certainly will. This technique is most effective against the resource point defenders on the Kurzick/Luxon front lines, because they will not flee their post even when facing annihilation.

Air Magic is the most popular of the Elementalist's skill lines, because it combines direct damage and tactics. Using the devastation caused by the lightning skills—Lightning Orb, Lightning Strike, and Lightning Surge—with a tactical combination of Blinding Flash and the Necromancer's Price of Failure, Spiteful Spirit, and Reckless Haste allows an Aeromancer Elementalist to deal devastating damage directly and passively. This combination is particularly effective against enemy Warriors who rely on melee combat. Blinding Flash causes them to miss with most of their swings, Reckless Haste forces them to attack more frequently, and both Spiteful Spirit and Price of Failure damage them each time they swing their weapon. Add to all this the ability to unleash swift and powerful bursts of lightning damage on an enemy, and you have a recipe for carnage!

Water Magic is probably the most underappreciated of the Elementalist schools. Despite its lack of popularity, it is one of the most effective skill lines across all the professions in regards to the slowing of enemies. Combined with the degenerative skills of either the Necromancer or Mesmer, the Hydromancer makes an extremely effective anti-Warrior combatant. Elementalists should cast one of their many snare Hexes—such as Deep Freeze, Frozen Burst, or Ice Spikes—to prevent their opponent from reaching them and then Hex the target to death with either Illusion skills such as Conjure Phantasm, Migraine, and Phantom Pain, or Blood Magic spells such as Life Siphon and Life Transfer. Many Warriors will pursue you even when greatly slowed by your Water Magic skills, allowing you to literally drain the life from them with no real danger of being pulled into their melee range. If they do get close enough, cast Blurred Vision on them, which substantially reduces their chance of hitting you.

These are just a few of the ways in which the Elementalist can contribute to a party of adventurers. This versatile profession continues to gain popularity as more and more students realize that each of the separate elemental lines has a unique gift to offer a party. I imagine we shall continue to see Elementalists throughout our world along with greater variations in the tactics they use, as more initiates begin to dabble in the less common Elemental Schools.

Random Acts of Kindness

While assisting my brethren during the Dragon Festival, I witnessed several acts of thoughtfulness. Perhaps it was the excitement of the games or the giddiness brought on by rice wine that caused the increase in kind behavior, but regardless of the cause, such benevolence is to be praised.

At the beginning of the festival, many participants were unsure how to play—or more importantly win—the festival games taking place outside Shing Jea Monastery. Many shared their secrets to success, and while their advice was diverse, the intent was always noble. Imperial Priest was the first I saw offering guidance, suggesting players use the corner rings in Nine Rings to win. While this can result in fewer wins, the corners pay out more. Thus, over time, the player is destined to come out ahead. O Frost O quickly disagreed, saying that the center ring was the true path to riches since it was the most likely to win at least 15 festival tickets. While I am not much of a gambler, I can see the advantages of both, and the good intent in the fortune-hunters' advice.

Later, I came across a large group of travelers confused as to the purpose of Jade Wind Orbs. Jaqueton Delmar came to their aid, explaining that the emperor himself would take the orbs and give them a Dragon Mask in return. Jaqueton even went so far as to inform them of the times when the Emperor was scheduled to arrive, and how many orbs he desired in exchange for a mask.

Two festival attendees took on the job of town crier, preparing guests for the arrival of the Emperor. Both Chris Of Krtya and Minnion Maker gave a countdown to his arrival, allowing festival-goers to gather the last orbs they required to receive a Dragon Mask, and to prepare themselves for the experience of being in the presence of the great Emperor Kisu. After all, it is not every day you meet your emperor face to face!

Generosity abounded during the Dragon Festival, but two participants in particular astonished me with their largess. Lady Airenthya announced to the throng of participants that she would give orbs to anyone who did not have enough for the Dragon Mask. I do not know how many she gave out in the end, but, but such magnanimity is a true sign of greatness. Sebastian Trueheart also showed his kindness by both arming soldiers for their battle against the demon invasion and by giving orbs and gifts to those celebrating the Dragon Festival.

Thanks are in order for the festival-goers mentioned here and all the other kind souls whom did not have the privilege to meet this week. You all helped make the Dragon Festival a celebration that will go down in history, and—on behalf of the Shing Jea Monastery—I thank you for that.