Kithicor Forest has recently become a much more dangerous, dark place. In days past, it was a quiet woods where an intrepid explorer could find many things of interest, but now it is overrun. It is confusing to travel in only because there aren't too many identifiable waypoints and the range that one can see is limited, but it contains good hunting for two different ranges of adventurers, as well as several unique items.
Some recent changes: Kithicor Zombies now thirst for bixie brains. Most woodsmen of Kithicor Forest have reorganized themselves under the ranger guildmaster Kithicor's leadership.
Another addendum. Following the opening of the Plane of Hate, this zone has become significantly more dangerous. At night (from 8pm in-game time to 6am), there are many very high level (level 35+) undead in the zone, which are highly aggressive. These undead can also sometimes be found during the day. In addition, different creatures are now appearing here, such as goblin workers and will-o-wisps, which are relatively high level (low teens). Exercise caution when travelling through here, especially at night.
The shadowed men have recently taken up appearing in this zone with frightening frequency. Their stepped up presence has turned a previously relatively safe zone into a much more dangerous one, as they often can't be seen until close, form into cohesive and deadly groups, and are extremely powerful. Keep your eyes peeled for this new group of inhabitants.
This zone is very dangerous to travel through, whether day or night. At night the powerful undead, which are mostly over 40th level, spawn all over the zone. In the daytime, these undead no longer spawn, but if more powerful characters did not destroy them they will still be walking around. It is only relatively safe to run along the walls, as the monsters can charm you off of the wall. Also, there are now Dark Elf Dragoons that can be seen wandering the zone, causing problems during the daytime hours.
There are other dangers here as well. The first is that the forest itself is very confusing and hard to get around if you don't know what you are doing. All the trees and hills look the same, and there is no sky to see and not many paths to follow if you get lost. If you bite off more than you can chew in terms of a monster, there are no wandering guards to save you (no guards period, actually) and you pretty much have to know where you're headed if you want to zone in time to escape. There also aren't many roaming bands of other players to save you if you need it.
The second is the Shralok Orcs that live in the southwestern corner of this zone and appear in the daytime. They are also, by far, the toughest monsters in the area (other than maybe Thumper, I never poked him to find out). A large number of players use the southern edge of the zone as their waypoint to find their way from West Commonlands to Highpass Hold, and it brings them perilously close to these guys.
As I mentioned above, people think that there are few benefits to playing in this area. When playing my ranger, I had to disagree. This area provides some of the best untouched hunting in the game, all readily accessable. It is possible to track around and find any monster you want, and I guarantee you nobody else will be after it. This goes for the newbie area as well as the higher level area that covers most of the southern edge of the zone. As a 10th level ranger, everything in that area /con'ed comfortably blue to me, and lower level groups could hunt their and make good experience. The largest problem with hunting here is the lack of money, as none of the creatures are sentient and carry cash with them. This is still true since the addition of the more powerful monsters, but is much more dangerous.
The other big plus in the game is that there seems to be some interesting quests available (or soon to be) in this area. The items that I mentioned above can be obtained from Ged Twigborn, a roaming NPC in the vein of the more famous Baobob Miller. He is occasionally accompanied by his non-speaking companion Irin Lunis. To find him, you either have to be able to track him down, which still requires some footwork, or to find Irin Lunis and follow her when she moves, because if she's by herself, she's walking towards him. He generally appears randomly in the southern half of the zone. It also appears that there is a Kithicor Resident faction. I haven't been able to increase it other than by doing the above quests, although you can increase it by killing orcs in Highpass Hold. There are several more NPC's (including the enigmatic Thumper) who don't speak to me yet, who I think will if I can get my standing higher.
The newest quest is that rangers can now obtained Ivy Etched Armor from a ranger outside of Morin Shadowbane's house in the northwestern section of the forest. This is a class-specific armor for rangers, and appears as green chain armor.
Traveling To and From
On the eastern edge of the zone lies the entrance to the West Commonlands, a mid-level zone that most people duck their heads and run through on their way to Freeport to the east.
On the northern edge lies the halfling starting city of Rivervale, a remarkably well-developed city (in terms of quests and talking NPC's), and beyond lies Misty Thicket and Runnyeye and the Gorge of King Xorbb, along the alternate route between Qeynos and Freeport.
On the western edge lies the entrance to Highpass Hold, a high mid-level zone. My recommendations are to not attempt this zone unless you are invisible, know the zone extremely well (and I mean like the back of your hand) or are at least 15th level or higher. Once you step in and see the trail of bodies leading off down the narrow, windy path, you might get an idea of what I mean. When you look up and see the orc shaman casting Root on you you'll definitely know what I mean.
What's in this zone?
Bloody Kithicor: The Final Battle
So follows a history of the battle of Bloody Kithicor.
All throughout Antonica, forces were being prepared for war. Quartermasters scrambled to equip hastily recruited troops. Men both military and mundane trained and practiced diligently on both sides for what would surely be a most terrible war. Anyone who could carry a weapon, carried one during those days for none knew when the army of dark elves would advance.
The Teir'Dal likewise prepared. They were confident that they would be successful. Indeed, they had the blessing of Innoruuk and his very daughter Lanys T'Vyl to lead them. Together with her mentor Laarthik K'Shin, the two would lead their great army against the forces of High Keep further increasing the strength of the nation of Teir'Dal and dividing the two cities Qeynos and Freeport, setting up a stranglehold upon the races of light.
The morning was rainy and cold when the dark elves began their march. Lead by Laarthik K'Shin and Lanys T'Vyl, the hordes of Teir'Dal were a consuming fire upon the common lands. Platoons of Teir'Dal broke off to crush the rag-tag bands of allied forces that rose to stop their advance. Regardless of the opposition they faced, Lanys and Laarthik pushed forward toward their goal. All around the sounds of war rang out, metal against metal, battle cries and screams of the dying.
As the army approached Kithicor forest, a rear guard was left behind to prevent the advancement of any of the races of light through the common lands. It was then that the army began to splinter and spread throughout Kithicor forest like a goblet of wine spilled upon a table. Slinking through the forest, a group of 30 Teir'Dal crept into Rivervale. They struck quickly and the peaceful halfling city was occupied and subjugated under the brutal heel of the dark elven oppressors with little or no resistance. The Teir'Dal raided the shops and took whatever meager wealth the halflings had. Any who protested were quickly struck down by the new rulers of Rivervale.
As the army continued to work its way through the forest, they began to meet with heavier resistance as the allied races of light sprang forth from their hiding places and ambushed the Dark Elves. Battles began to erupt in every corner of the forest. As quickly as a Teir'Dal was struck down, another would come forward to take its place. As soon as a Teir'Dal platoon would survive one ambush, they would be ambushed yet again. Both armies were relentless. Neither side could tell who was winning. The smell of death and of blood began to replace the usually fragrant smells of the forest.
Lord Tephys, Galeth Veredeth and Firiona Vie waited just outside the entrance to High Pass with the assembled forces of the Paladins of Tunare and all others that were willing to assist them. The situation was very grave. The armies approach was heralded by a stampede of frightened animals all scurrying in fear of the approaching dark elven menace. It was shortly thereafter that they began to hear the sound of marching boots, the clang of weapons, and the rattle of armor peppered with the occasional scream approaching through the forest. It was there, near the entrance to High Pass that the leaders of the two armies met, face to face. The forest seemed to groan and the very earth trembled. Cruel laughter was heard echoing through the trees.
Lord Tephys raised his mailed fist into the air and swore aloud, "By the grace of The Mother, you will be stopped Child of Hate! Your cursed army shall go no farther than where I stand."
Lanys's derisive laughter seemed supernaturally loud as it rang out, almost hurting the ears of those around her, "Old fool, you feel such hate for me and in that I am glad. This only proves the strength of my father and his power! However, the hate you feel toward me is nothing compared to the sheer depths of hate I hold toward you and your kind. Prepare to feel the full force of the power that is hate itself!"
And with those words, the two armies clashed. Lanys seemed to close the gap between herself and Lord Tephys in but a single leap and struck at the old Paladin with a viscous fury. Like a hammer unto an anvil, Lanys's swords struck again and again against the upraised shield of Lord Tephys. The Paladin struggled valiantly under the harsh blows of the Child of Hate. The attacks were relentless and only seemed to become more violent as they continued.
Finally, the shield of the old Paladin failed him and Lanys landed a blow squarely upon the aged shoulder of the holy fighter. Dropping his shield, he staggered backward but clutching his wound as it bled freely he whispered for aid from Tunare. His hand glowed a soft blue as the wound healed and he smiled to himself as he felt the love of The Mother. His smile quickly faded as he looked up to see Lanys's hands glowing as well, a cruel smile upon her face. Shouting out words in Ancient Teir'Dal, Lanys made a sweeping gesture toward her enemy, great streams of magical energy coursing from her outstretched hands and enveloping the High Elf. Lord Tephys clutched at his chest as his whole body was wracked with incredible pain. Stunned from the sudden and unexpected blow, Lord Tephys failed to block as Lanys struck a final terrible blow. Lord Tephys fell quietly to the ground and into the bosom of the Great Mother.
Meanwhile, a much different battle was being waged. Two seasoned fighters, leaders of men, both ancient and both veterans of countless battles squared off against each other. Like a deadly game of chess, Laarthik K'Shin and Galeth Veredeth circled one another in a deadly ballet of thrusts and parries. Both were opponents of equal skill but Laarthik, through the dark power he practiced, had the body of a young man. Galeth on the other hand, though in excellent physical shape for his age, was still very old.
Lowering his guard ever so slightly, Laarthik allowed Galeth to bash him square in the chin with his shield. Striking like a serpent, Laarthik's hand shot forward enveloped in a blaze of fiery magical energy. Stepping inward and snaking his blazing hand under the upraised arm of the High Paladin's shield, Laarthik touched the chest of Galeth as the fire left the hand of the Teir Dal and enveloped his mortal enemy. A cry of shock and pain erupted from the lips of the elder fighter. But with a speed that one would not expect from an old man he quickly jumped back and laying his hand upon his blistered and still smoldering skin, the wound disappeared completely though the smell of burning flesh was still heavy in the air.
Galeth smiled briefly at his mortal enemy and laughed, "It appears we are still even my worthy adversary." Then feigning surprise, he raised his eyebrows and taunted, "Oh wait, I see your lip is bleeding now! Perhaps it is I who have the upper hand!" They resumed their deadly dance.
As Lord Tephys fell Firiona Vie moved to assist him but she quickly realized that she was too late to save her companion. Lanys T'Vyl sprung upon Firiona like a hunting cat after it's prey. Firiona was surprised by the uninhibited fury of Lanys T'Vyl and by the sheer strength of her blows. Shifting her weight she dug the side of her foot firmly into the ground in a back stance as she began to parry the fierce thrusts and savage slashes of Innoruuk's chosen.
Again and again, Lanys's weapons struck down upon Firiona's shield and sword. Unlike Lord Tephys, she was able to withstand the force of her attacks. She did not forget the training she received from her mentor Galeth. She realized the importance of remaining calm and level headed during combat. Firiona and Lanys were polar opposites on the field of combat. Lanys foamed at the mouth and struck viscously while Firiona was calm, almost relaxed, as she turned aside her blows. Biding her time and saving her strength, Firiona simply parried the blows of Lanys T'Vyl.
Laarthik and Galeth continued their deadly ballet. The body that housed Laarthik's evil soul was young and strong but Galeth's old body was growing weak. Little by little, he felt himself loosing his edge. He began to realize, that this was a battle that he could not win. He resolved himself to hold off Laarthik for as long as possible, regardless of the outcome.
As Lanys's attack continued against Firiona, the Chosen of Tunare noticed the fury begin to fade just a bit from the dark elf's strikes. In a single fluid motion, the Paladin parried both of her opponents blades downward with her single sword as she circled swiftly to the side of Lanys. Swinging her shield in a back handed motion as she spun, she struck Lanys brutally in the back of the head, pushing her off balance momentarily. Though surprised and momentarily dazed by the sudden attack, Lanys regained her composure in time to turn aside the deadly sword thrust that was aimed directly for her midsection. It was from this point forth, that Firiona took the offensive. This time it was she who struck again and again, with Lanys continually backing up under the force of her blows.
Swarms of tiny insects began to swarm around the battle and the ground began to tremble at the Great Mother's displeasure. Firiona seemed to grow in stature and her golden hair began to shine brilliantly as she was filled with the love of the Mother and surrounded by her protection. She waged her battle against the chosen of Innoruuk without mercy, making known the full displeasure of the Tunare.
Lanys was becoming weak and faltered under the righteous anger. Her eyes, once a blaze of hate and fury were now glazed and filled with exhaustion. Defending herself grimly, she called out, "Laarthik, please help me!"
Hearing the cry of help from his student and the chosen of his race and god, Laarthik was filled with a new found rage. Roaring like a lion, he drove the pummel of his sword straight across and onto the temple of the tiring Galeth Veredeth. The savage blow was too much for the High Paladin of Tunare. Galeth, for the first time in his long life, fell before an opponent on the field of battle, bleeding and unconscious.
Seeing the gravity of the situation, Laarthik pulled the large glowing blue sphere found by the goblin Nurgal, from out of his breastplate. The orb glowing brightly, pulsed and vibrated in Laarthik's hands. The air resonated and hummed with energy. Holding the orb to the sky, he cried out in a strangled voice, "Innoruuk! In the name of Lanys T'Vyl, I beseech you! Attend her!" The energy contained within the orb was released.
The screams of ten thousand damned souls filled the world as an immeasurable power opened a rift in the astral barrier. The hearts of even the most evil and twisted creatures in Norrath were suddenly filled with dread and fear from the terrible miasma of evil that spewed forth from the Plane of Hate. Laarthik's borrowed body was encased in a pillar of fire emanating from the orb, as the energies of Innoruuk were unleashed. Nothing can withstand the presence of a god and Laarthik's body was quickly torn apart by the terrible power.
Lanys tossed her head and laughed throatily. She shouted out in welcome to the power of Innoruuk. Her body glowed with crimson flame as she was drawn upward by the Prince of Hate, her father. The Child of Hate disappeared into the swirling rift in the sky as the remains of Laarthik crumpled to the ground. A tremendous roar rose up from the very heart of Norrath.
Firiona Vie stared in dismay and shock as Lanys was swept into the Heart of Hate, dread filling her eyes with angry tears. The Chosen of Tunare called out to those around her as her heart was overcome by terror, "Flee! Flee for your lives! Doom approaches!" Firiona rushed to Galeth's side and cried, "This is a portent of death! None can survive the Hate Innoruuk will cast upon us!" She helped her fallen mentor struggle to his feet and together, they both fled the scene of the calamity.
A vacuous wave of hopelessness and dread withered the souls of all in Kithicor as sight was ripped from their eyes from Innoruuk's presence. Hearts beating rapidly in fear suddenly stopped. In an instant, the terrible clamor of war was replaced by an unnatural silence. All life in the forest, whether dark elf, ally, or animal, was instantly extinguished.
And so ended the Battle of Bloody Kithicor. Both sides suffered terrible losses. The allied forces held what was probably the most sober and somber "victory" party in history at High Pass. The Dark Elves retreated to Neriak. The once quiet, sylvan forest that was filled with relatively peaceful woodland creatures had been forever tainted. To this day, Kithicor is haunted by the restless souls of the fallen soldiers that perished during that terrible war.
The world was never the same again.