From the AC1 Insider site we get the teaser for August's patch, "Into the Darkness", along with some impressive screenshots.
Into the Darkness
"High Priestess?" The whisper-soft hiss echoed off the walls of the earthen tunnel.
"What is it, Issk?" Nuhmudira looked at her protégé, closing the book she had been reading over her forefinger so as to not lose her place. She was dressed in her midnight blue and white robes, overseeing the construction of tunnels that stretched deep into the world.
"We have reached the inner chamber. So, too, have the virindi." Issk, a chomu sclavus, bowed his head and spread his hood wide. The gesture was an honorific offered only to the High Priestess of the faith. "She who sings" was due this reverence, especially when the news her underling delivered was disheartening. He awaited a response.
"Send your best warriors to deter their progress. I will sing for assistance." She opened the book and watched as Issk rose to leave her presence. She called after him. "Issk, once warriors are in place, climb to the surface and recruit others to our cause." In her left hand, a new, simple-looking book appeared. "Give them this book. It will explain our cause more fully. The Isparians may question why I send you to speak to them, but they must be made to know that Aerbax means ill with his goals."
Issk took the book, bowing his head and flourishing his hood once again.
Alatar is going to have a fit. That was Antius' first thought as he cleared the ridge and looked down into the valley. All of the existing maps of the area would need to be changed.
The first terrified reports had come from the Sennon Valley and Hand-on-Sword settlements. Almost overnight, trees and grass had died, replaced by enormous mushrooms and other fungal growths. The whole area was now a twisted wasteland, utterly alien in the pale moonlight.
If we can't stop them, all of Dereth will look like this. It was a sobering thought. He might have speculated further, had he not been frozen by the chittering sound behind him. Antius turned slowly, looking up at the blue-black armor, the burgundy eyes, the pincers poised to attack. One hand reached into his pocket for two of the gems that Ciandra had prepared for him, and he mentally thanked the Arcanum for their work. As he crushed the stones and their magic exploded around him, he drew his sword in a flash and lunged.
"...capable of boiling the most corrosive of materials I have ever seen." Hiro grumbled, crumbling a sprig of henbane into a bubbling concoction. "I'll be, it did work. Do you see that, Ciandra? Who would have ever thought?"
Ciandra smiled and turned back to her class.
"With the discovery of aqua vitae, we have ushered in a new era for alchemy on Dereth. I will be collating the notes for this latest find and distributing them as I can. Please, remain vigilant in your research and remember to turn in your findings to either myself or Hiro." She dismissed the class and pocketed the gem.
"Garsh has failed." Niarltah said across the large stone table.
"So too have your heroes." Muldaveus leaned forward, speaking directly at the leader of the tumeroks. "Our forces were routed despite being well provisioned and prepared." He leaned back as the tumerok leader nodded in agreement. "The question now is, what do we do next?"
"When I led the massacre at Holtburg, so many years ago, it was only through tenacity and perseverance that I was able to bring my troops to victory. Even then, one Isparian proved to be a difficult foe for many. I have not forgotten those days." Niarltah paused. "Redouble our efforts. We have chosen our place for victory; winning at Fort Tethana will make that battle all the easier. If we fail at Tethana, there are always other options, newer options."
"Yes," the gray giant agreed, then drew in a quick breath. "But what of the olthoi?"
"For the moment they are of little concern. The ona I sent to track the whereabouts of the olthoi hives will return to us and warn us of how great the threat is. Let us focus upon the task at hand, Muldaveus."
Niarltah stood and walked across the room toward an enclave of great tumerok and lugian warriors. Muldaveus rose and followed close behind.
Elysa stood on a balcony, unable to sleep. She saw nothing in the night but stars-Alb'arel was behind her and Rez'arel had not yet risen. And yet she knew that, somewhere in the night, Asheron was instructing his golems to repair the damage done to his tower. Somewhere in the night, Antius scouted the new hives on her command. Somewhere in the night, in the darkness...the olthoi waited.
She remembered the weight of the quiver on her shoulder, the feel of the bow in her hand. She remembered the horror of the Queen's hive, over a decade past now, remembered watching Thorsten die. She had thought that it would be over, that her people would never face such a nightmare again.
So naïve, so wrong! The olthoi were coming, and now she would have to take her people into the darkness once again.
A single claw reached over a shoulder and unfastened the mask; three tentacles stretched out to drag along the corridor of the newly constructed tunnel. A consul, independent entity Vincadi, made his way to where Aerbax stood. As Aerbax watched Vincadi in the tunnels, the mirror spoke to him from the energy source.
"Master Aerbax. Flesh being Nuhmudira has acquired the objective's locality. The tunnels of the flesh beings fill with a force set to invade our current position."
It requires more power to make the shift to the Singularity. Collect the specimen at any cost and fulfill your goal. You have progressed well. Do not allow a failure now.
"Our progress astounds even those who cannot comprehend our undertaking. See that the flesh beings are shackled. We will achieve our objective." The claw replaced the mask and the tentacles retreated beneath his tattered cloak. "I will bring forth the fleshless eyes. Vincadi, recruit the flesh beings to our cause and conduct your research, as well."
Vincadi's mask tilted slightly. "You believe that the meatbags will assist us?"
Is it wise to rely upon flawed beings to accomplish your work?
The questions came simultaneously and were parsed to different receptors. His answer came swiftly and without difficulty, "The 'meatbags' have proven ever predictable and reliable in assisting a cause they know nothing of. They will assist us, as they have before."