High Above, Deep Below | January Announcement

Posted 9 months ago :: Last edited 8 months ago by rhiow

[ Recommended Listening. ]

Days before the equinox, the worst blizzard in years threatened to shutter the doors of Firsden. The storm consumed the southern mountain range, swallowing even the peaks around Snowhurst. As the snow continued to spiral down, it seemed that the Hibernal Equinox might be a quiet affair, after all. They couldn’t cast their illusions to the wind, not like this. In the white out, how would St. Veti find his way home?

Snowed in, the end of the world barely a breath away from your face. The celebrations turned quiet, the firelight dimming beyond frosted windows. The ursuki, unwilling to turn out guests into the cold, nevertheless would find themselves unable to press on. One by one, they would retire. The great sleep, and not a single shenanigan to show for it! At the heart of it all, the saints of Firsden whisper in each other’s embrace, “Don’t cry. We’ll see him next year.”

Well. That’s how the story could end. But you wouldn’t give in so easily, would you? Where, in every corner there is darkness, you have a choice. And Bellacoste has chosen life, again and again. Set your shoulders and turn the page.

This isn’t how the story ends.

When the blizzard rolls in, the ursuki don’t return to their dens. They draw their guests and each other close. Their breath freezes in the air and to each other they give the gift of warmth. Warmer still are the intrepid souls that venture into the rolling storm, prints in the snow vanishing behind them. They venture onward into the howling night and together they dig out St. Veti’s workshop.

As the brave conquer the storm, in Firsden a plan forms. What is a paltry storm in the face of everything they’ve seen, done, endured? Be it candles, lanterns, campfires or the rising inferno of a mother unwilling to be without her son, together they outlast and light up the way. The blizzard ebbs, bowing its head at last to the combined efforts of the many. With a parting flurry, the sky opens up at last.

The bitter cold remains, but it’s hard to feel it when surrounded by the warmth of those around you. The cheers, the smiles, the laughter. Oh, we’ve earned this reprieve! Take a moment to breathe, to drink, to laugh. At the gates, a groggy Veti reunites with his parents. A blaze envelops the three of them, melting a swath of snow but burning not a hair between them. It’s good to be home.

With a bang, the Hibernal Equinox starts in earnest. Chester and Mochi lead the charge with a shockingly bawdy advertisement for their wares, giggling and fleeing into the Heartswood soon thereafter. The ursuki paint the sky with color, some telling stories while others revel in the abstract. Their illusions drown out the stars and come to life all around Firsden. For one night only, spirits and fairy tales walk through the village, almost real.

The ursuki of Firsden aren’t the only ones celebrating. Look west, to Fluorspar, where Romulon and Vespilet take their cherub to the cliffside to look out into the sea. The stars twinkle and Bread reaches, waving out into the night. His parents exchange a look and a smile. Carefully they take stairs hewn into the cliff and join the others below. Where once there was a forest, the people of Fluorspar gather in the wreckage. Romulon urges their child to choose a seed packet of their own, and together the family sows the next generation of trees and plants. They could rebuild. They could outlast.

Travel east to Goldfair. The barns damaged by the rampaging beast have long since been patched. The trail still runs dark across the countryside, but in the spring the damage would start to heal. Like an old wound, some things leave a scar– but this one would be awash in wildflowers. The tables are set. The hearths are warm. Kit and Amaryllis sit together at a greater table, lost in conversation and good food.

Follow the winds northwest, where at long last the Arbiter returns to roost. The city of Banelaire greets her exuberantly, a chorus rippling through the city as the Ancient walks the cobbled streets. She joins their song, a deep note of longing. The refrains chase her through the tunnels, as comforting as one’s shadow. Into the depths she plunges until she comes to rest at the Lucid Altar. Here, she hums softly to the newly hatched geodes, reminding them that everything was fine. Everything would be alright, now.

Fly across the sound to Marshgrave. One sister knocks upon the door of the other, plaintive but hopeful. The door opens just a crack, a scrutinizing eye fills the void. Then it flies open and one embraces the other, silently. The third was already there. Together they take communion and enjoy one another’s company, sharing stories and putting the past behind them. If only for tonight.

Meander south of Obrille, just into the Ebony Wreath. Axel sits alone by the inlet shore, fidgeting with his claws. A boisterous greeting draws his attention, a smile brightening his face as Avalon joins him. They promised. Of course she came. The two embrace and lay out a blanket, watching the water together as the moon rises. Was it hours or only minutes? Did it really matter? One leans upon the other as the stars shine brighter. The pitter patter of hurried steps catches their attention just before something crashes into them. A flurry of laughter and limbs and Axel and Avalon disentangle themselves from Tiny and Titan. The woolyne siblings settle in with them on their blanket.

Jishui smiles at the water’s edge before bumping his shoulder against Tejat. Time to go.

Dive beneath the water, straight down into the darkest depths. Aequor celebrates with elaborate dances and costumes, glimmering brilliant bioluminescence. The rift remains open, the bridge quiet. The Nothing rests, but doesn’t forget. Aequor diligently keeps watch, as does Andras. The woolyne retreat to their homes, honoring their year by studying and preparing for the next.

King Ericius invites his daughter to dance, and together they pair put on a brilliant show. Naia laughs, and laughs, and laughs. Her father cracks a smile before he starts to laugh, too. It was infectious. They live another year.

At the heart of Bellacoste, townsfolk take a moment to rest. The walls were nearly rebuilt. Damaged roofs repaired. Queen Nouvel smiles wearily as Perth draws Fiorel away from the throne, joining her for just tonight to dance with the other nobles. Once the princess was engaged and dancing with others, the Queensguard returns to her post. The queen and guard share a long look and a smile.

The sky is whole. Illusions light up the night. A deep breath, a relieved exhale. We’re home. It’s peaceful.

But that’s not the end either. It can’t be.

Turn the page.

Beneath the city, down spiraling staircases, to places where the sun never shines, a cell awaits in the dark. With only sputtering torchlight to show the way, a voice rasps, rusty with disuse.

“I’m t– trying…”

Blood drips from the speaker's nose to a drying splatter on the floor.

A canted ear, the clink of a heavy chain.

“...Give me just… just a little more time.”

Just a little more time. That’s all it would take. Oh, to breathe the open air once more, so high above.

Just a little longer.

This past year sure was something, wasn’t it? Despite the ups and the downs, I’m so grateful that all of you chose to spend some of your precious time here with us. In early 2021 we embarked on this journey, not knowing where it would lead. Back then, I couldn’t imagine where the year would end. I’m so grateful to the excellent Pouflons team, who spent so much of their time this past year working to make this ARPG as fun as we possibly could.

And I’m grateful for you, the players. In 2021 we more than tripled our user base. We dove into the first major event in Pouflons history that spanned several months. In 2021 you submitted hundreds of new characters (555 pouflons, 107 vespires and 48 ursuki, to be exact!). You spent countless hours creating beautiful pieces of art and thousands of words of literature. In June, we raised $1000 for the Trevor Project. When I think of all the things we’ve achieved together, I can’t help but get a little emotional. Thank you.

Let’s make 2022 an even better year! Welcome, at last, to the Year of Bellacoste.

This year focuses on personal choice. As we start our next major storyline, your choices will directly impact the direction the story takes and the release schedule of upcoming lore, traits, and more. This month we released the first part of that journey, the new event quest [ Deep Below ]. 

How you– and your characters– approach this quest will directly impact the next part of the story. Think of it like a choose-your-own-adventure where the majority rule will dictate the next step of the story. The stakes are pretty high, but I have full confidence in you!

The rewards from these quests are pretty unusual. I think you should hang on to them, just in case.

The event quest isn’t all that’s new this month! Head on over to our [ Monthly Quests ] to participate in this year’s collaborative prompt, Equinox Celebration. The Asterfall Ball has returned this year as a solo prompt if ballrooms are more your style! Finally, New Year’s Wishes has seen some changes this year– it’s now a very fancy raffle where YOU choose what prize you want!

Our Winter [ Seasonal Prompts ] are still ongoing! That’s right, it’s not too late to grab your Heartwood Piece! Remember, it brings good luck!

Curious when the next Coin Auction might be? Wonder no more! Coin Auctions from here on out will happen in the last month of the current season. That means the schedule should always look like this:

Winter: February
Spring: May
Summer: August
Fall: November

Be sure to save those coins, the next sale is in February!

Hey there! Did you know we have our own [ Ko-fi ]? Ko-fi members get access to a lot of cool perks, including on site rewards, monthly streams, and sneak peaks at what’s coming! Your support directly helps us continue making updates like this one, as well as creating new merch to sell in…

Our [ Etsy Shop ]! Our stock is currently limited, but we’re always hard at work concepting and getting new items made.

Your support means everything to us! From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Did you know we have our own [ Discord ]? Stop by to receive updates as they happen, not to mention hang with the coolest community around!

One last thing-- if you’re looking for a new Bellacoste character, why not commission [ Cake ] or [ Rhiow ] for a custom?

As always, I have a few reminders for you!

The annual [ Secret Santa ] ends on January 7th, please make sure to submit your entries before time is up! If you’re unable to finish your entry for any reason, please reach out to Pixdoodles, Cake or Rhiow to let us know.

The [ December Raffle ] also ends on January 7th, don’t forget!

Last but certainly not least, the [ NPC Contest ] will run through January 31st. You still have time to enter and forever impact the direction of upcoming characters critical to the Knight and Mage Quest update coming this year!

We know that some of you aren’t in our Discord, and that’s okay! Moving forward, we’ll be including important notes from our #changelog channel at the end of our monthly updates.

December Change Log:

Dec 1st: All new ursuki traits have been uploaded to the site and masterlist entries have been updated. The following traits had their names tweaked after our initial update: Cub Ears -> Teddy Ears, Bat Ears -> Sonar Ears, Patches Eye Patches -> Cheeky Eye Patches, Tufted Tail -> Dandy Tail, No Tail -> Bare Tail, Dino Tail -> Paleo Tail.

A Capricorn and Royal subtype have been added for ursuki. Kelp Wings have been added for Capricorn ursuki.

The ursuki runic locations have been updated. Now the eyes and tongue are required runic spots.

Dec 7th: Several legacy items have been updated to tweak or add uses! The following items have been tweaked: Cool Sunglasses, Enchanted Holly and Enchanted Bow.

All amulets have been updated with the new affinity names! Royal Amulet has had ursuki with Rootsinger or Frostbound affinities added!

Dec 9th: Starting now, all loot tables with a chance to reward nothing have had the "nothing" odds replaced with a new currency, the Gambit Token. I advise hanging onto these, you never know when they might become useful in the future! Unfortunately, we can't retroactively grant these tokens, but moving forward where you would have otherwise gotten nothing, you'll get a Gambit Token instead!

Dec 13th: Starting now, all new submissions to the site's Gallery will reward the submitter a shiny COIN! Already submitted? Don't worry-- we didn't forget about you. All current submissions are currently being worked to backlog coins, from us to you!

There's a new Gallery category as well-- Recolored Bases. Recolored Bases are the only thing not eligible for the extra gallery coin, but we'd still love to see them, so please share with us!

Additionally, a new moderator role has been added: Curator. Our Curators (Ellusively for art and Lawlie for writing) are on the lookout for art and literature that we can share on our Lorekeeper and Weebly site to showcase YOUR amazing work! Be on the lookout for our Curators reaching out! Never fear-- nobody's art or writing will be used without permission.

Dec 15th: If you received a Glass Horn Spell from your December Appreciation Gift we are offering you 1 reroll on the loot table. Glass Horn is a defunct item and was added to the loot table in error! You can either keep it and apply Vial Runic with it or submit a claim for a loot table reroll. To get the reroll follow these steps:

-Open a general claim via "Submit" -> "Submit Claim"
-Put whatever you like for the url and comment section
-Attach the glass horn spell via the "add-ons" section of the claim
-Submit claim!

Dec 21st: Leaf Wings have been updated on site to specify that they have simpler shapes and must not comprise of a greater plant system (multiple leaves creating one "wing").

Palm Wings have been changed to "Intricate Leaf Wings". The description has been updated to include types that have naturally occurring holes (ie: palm, monstera) or can be comprised of multiple leaves (ie: fern).

Dec 31st: There's been some confusion about the Ornament Horns trait and whether it grants horns or not. It doesn't-- but it can modify your character's existing horns or add the Vial Runic effect to their other runic locations, so horns or not, you can make use of this item! If you ever ADD horns in the future, the Vial Runic effect can carry over to them.

The Candle Horns spell was also in nebulous territory, so we made a change to it as well. This spell can modify your character's existing horns (any style) to the candle type, - OR - grant (or upgrade) your character's horns to the "Wreath" style. The second option will still be candle style horns, but now there's an option to add horns to characters that don't currently have them!


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