Somewhere at the end of a universe, there is a bar.
In this bar is a pretty brunette staring intently at a laptop, humming idly to herself and occasionally scribbling on an attached tablet.
"The sulfurous death zone, by the by, as well as the whole desert, were created when the five main gods fought and imprisoned the sixth god - Abaddon, god of secrets - in the Realm of Torment, which nowadays is the goddess of knowledge's realm.
"So, you take an airship with Elona, courtesy of captain Ellen Kiel, and before reaching Amnoon, the Free City, you see some pyramids and a small village on fire. You land and find this lady made of fire and armour attacking the place - she's Balthazar's Herald, and is attacking anyone who doesn't want to worship Balthazar and destroying places. You fight her off and kill the two pups of Balthazar - they're pups because the original hounds of Balthazar were killed also by you in the volcano earlier - and then you start helping the village out mounted on a giant raptor."
"Where did the raptor come from?"
"Oh, the cool feature of the Elona expansion is mounts, you get a bunch of them - the raptor, the springer, which is a giant bunny, the skimmer, which is a giant floating manta ray that goes faster over water, the jackal which is a magical creature made of sand by djinn, and the griffon, a specific species that's magical and that very few people have tamed, and all of them Sunspears. So you get the raptor as a thank-you for saving the village and you can use it to travel anywhere from then on."
"That sounds tempting."
"They are actually super useful and lots of fun, you basically don't walk anymore, just ride."
"Am I followed by animals wherever I go?"
"In-game they just appear magically under you, I think I'm going to reify that as some sort of high-powered mesmer magic that summons the mount when you need it."
"Whenever they are too damaged they are immediately and automatically shunted back to their comfy enclosure and healed, yes," Pedro says, with a half smile. James is just grinning.
"After saving the village you ride your raptor the rest of the way to Amnoon, whose gates are closed because of the sudden extreme influx of refugees fleeing from Balthazar's actions in the south."
"He doesn't waste time, huh?"
"He already has an army forged out of the souls of the dead."
"Yep. He found some lost Forgotten magic that was used to create the Exalted and used that to trap the souls of his defeated foes in armour and enslave them. Sort of in the same way Palawa Joko enslaves everyone he lifts from the dead."
"So! You reach Amnoon, and guess who's there: Kasmeer and Rytlock."
"Wait, what? How'd they get there before me?"
"Unclear, there was an unspecified amount of time between finding the Eye and going to Elona. They managed to talk to the City Council and invite you in - the game makes a point of inserting a hook of a scene to show how impatient you are with the way Rytlock keeps not telling anyone about his trip to the Mists."
"I'm still calling plot contrivance. There were better ways to have you meet up with those two than mysteriously having them both get there before you, even after there was a point of you going alone. I'd throw popcorn at the screen, but there is no screen. I'd just be throwing popcorn at James or something."
"I mean, there's the computer screen of when I got to that part of the game. Honestly the things that bothers me the most about it is that we went on this huge quest to even figure out where Balthazar was headed, and somehow Kas and Rytlock found out anyway? Maybe you told them? I don't know, hold on, let me look up dates on the wiki..."
"A type of online encyclopedia. And yeah, just checked, you went to Elona in the same year as you found the Eye so there's no conspicuous amount of time passing between one thing and the other." He shrugs. "So in Amnoon you meet the City Council and convince them to accept Sunspear aid, even though that would officially mean that Amnoon is taking sides in this war where it's spent decades being neutral grounds."
"To clarify, the Sunspears are fighting Palawa Joko, undead lord that would like to rule all of Elona, but doesn't quite yet. Amnoon has been Switzerland for his conflict because it seems smarter than anything else. James persuades them to stop.
"Uh, Pedro, this might still be too much detail, I'm not sure how relevant Amnoon's tenuous political situation is until we get there, and I don't... super know how to respond. I vaguely want to get to the part where I'm awesome and save everyone. Or at least where I get to make pretty things, I have only gotten to make a library so far, and I didn't even have to do anything, it was just already present in my natural aesthetic."
"Right okay I'll elide over more stuff especially because James isn't even going to live this future if Rytlock never happens to run into Balthazar."
"Doesn't he remain a threat in the Mists, for anyone else to stumble upon and release?"
"I dunno, maybe Aestrix could create a plot armour around his shackles and make sure he never gets released. Although that's kinda crappy to him. Uhh. I dunno. We'll decide this later. Anyway, so you explore around to figure out what Balthazar is up to, and Vlast - to our readers who might not remember, that's Glint's first kid, Aurene's big brother - Vlast has been fighting the Forged in his free time. So you go look for Vlast, run into Balthazar's Herald, kill her, she begs you to kill her god for her, and then when you find Balthazar he got Vlast trapped and is trying to drain him. You fight Balthazar, he kicks your ass, when he's about to kill you Vlast intervenes and dies instead and explodes Balthazar away. You find Vlast's memories in the form of crystals, and you go to Glint's lair to find a weapon that could kill Kralkatorrik, and destroy it before Balthazar can use it.
"So you're all like, okay, what now? And Kasmeer suggests trying to go talk to the gods and figure out what the fuck. So you open the portal to the Mists in the Tomb of Primeval Kings, find Kormir, and she tells y'all the thing about how the gods left in order to prevent the destruction of Tyria that would be the inevitable result of an inevitable battle between them and the Elder Dragons, and Balthazar wanted to stay behind so the other gods bound him."
"Summary: Balthazar attacks Glint's firstborn, because he's directly useful to killing Kralkatorrik in particular, and Balthazar wants his shit so he can kill and eat another elder dragon. In the ensuing struggle, Balthazar kills Vlast, but Vlast fails to give him power out of spite, Balthazar runs off.
"I'll probably have some kind of talk with Balthazar, if you can run him. I don't want to leave him in chains forever, and I don't want to give him oodles of power and lint him at the other gods and say 'go get em, tiger,' but killing him for what he might do seems... something." She shrugs. "I'll figure something out."
Nod. "Yeah, I can run Balthazar, sure. So, you destroy Glint's special weapon - Rytlock is against this, partly because it's the only thing you know for sure can kill Kralkie, partly because of sentimental reasons, Glint made that weapon for him and his friends. Then you talk to Kormir, blah blah blah, after she explains all the things she says that the means to kill Balthazar are within your grasp and that you should follow Vlast's trail. You know, in typical god fashion, no straight answers, just riddles. She could've said, 'Use the sword, it's super strong and will kill Balthazar,' she could have said, 'Go to Kesho, the hidden city - here's a map,' but noooooo, all she gives you is riddles. And, well, access to her library, I guess."
"We've fought worse things with less information."
"Always the optimist."
"It's what I do."
"You and your friends go south, looking for Vlast's trail. After much asking around you find the hidden city where he was raised by the Exalted, Kesho, and in there you see representations of visions of Glint's plan, which involved replacing each Elder Dragon with something that was less murderous and could keep the balance. She wanted herself and her children to take some of those places, but now it's only Aurene left. So you message Taimi so she can arrange for your friends to meet you somewhere with Captain Kiel's airship, but Balthazar beats you there, beats you up some more, and just as Aurene shows up to save you he kills you."
"You get better, and also you run into Palawa Joko in the Underworld. Turns out he and Balthazar went in there to collect souls, they had a deal that they'd take half each, but Balthazar betrayed Joko and locked him up there and took all the souls to himself, to add to his Forged army. You come back to life -"
"You kill an evil beast that was there because of all the everything going on. Anyway, you come back to life, and you have a plan: impersonating a high-ranking officer of Joko's and taking your Awakened army to war against Balthazar. It... works pretty well, you face Balthazar again in single combat, this time with Aurene's help and using Rytlock's sword. You kill Zarzar, Aurene and Kralkatorrik absorb his energy, and unbeknownst to you Palawa Joko gets free because Balthazar's magic is gone."
"...so now Kralkatorrik has a god's magic and is more powerful than ever, and Joko is free again. Joy."
"And also personally pissed with you for stealing his army and abandoning him in the Underworld. Oh, right, summary, uh.
"Balthazar can use Glint's other kid, Aurene, to hurt Kralkatorrik. James is Aurene's guardian. So Balthazar ambushes, attacks, and essentially tortures James to draw Aurene out to help her daddy. She falls into this trap, and is captured. Then he kills James. James gets better, steals Palawa Joko's army through shenanigans, and flips the undead lord the bird in the process. He then goes and avenges his own death by killing Balthazar. Balthazar's power goes into Aurene and Kralkatorrik, and Joko is now pissed with James. End expansion."
"After the expansion, Kralkatorrik invokes a Brandstorm even without having to be nearby - that's how powerful he got - and Brands all of Amnoon. You go there to rescue people, fight one of Kralkatorrik's lieutenants with Aurene's help - she's pretty big now, actually, that magic jumpstarted some growth - and after that she sends you and your friends a vision of a city, which the Order of Whispers liaison identifies as Fahranur, the First City, which is on the island of Istan. At some point that's not super clear where it fits in the storyline, you meet the corpse of Tahlkora, the last Sunspear Spearmarshal, whom Joko Awakened but didn't manage to control. She teaches you how to ride griffons, they're the coolest mount of the expansion.
"So, you go to Istan, find out the Sunspears have been rallying there and they have a new Spearmarshal but he was captured by Joko's forces and he also happens to be the only person alive who knows how to get to Fahranur. Adventuring happens, you save him, but Taimi talks to you via comm and she sounds extremely distressed and in danger. You go to Fahranur to rescue her, because she's there, apparently, and when you get there you find that Joko is in fact back from the Underworld and using asura technology to send his Awakened army to northern Tyria under the pretense that when you usurped his army you effectively declared war on behalf of the rest of Tyria."
"Summary: Kralkatorrik is supercharged and Joko is a massive asshole. Uh, not sure any of this is relevant to fixing the world anymore, and it's sort of... it's hard to focus on a thread that's entirely exposition? Even for me. Thus why this thread has sat dormant for, uh." She checks, and winces. "Twooooo months?" Pause. "So we should maybe stop expositing and I should go adventure."
"Wait, but do I eventually kill Joko?"
"Technically yes; you assault his fortress and then go on a very ill-advised duo mission with Braham into it and kill him but he turns out to be too immortal for that and while he's monologuing at you Aurene appears and eats him."
"That's... good? Is she okay?"
"Well, the last we see of her she's belching and seems to have a stomach ache but seems to be otherwise fine, if a bit more dragony than we're used to." He looks at Aestrix, then. "There, all done, we're caught up on all the content that's been released so far. Adventure time?"