Return to Cassardis and if it's not night time, rest until it is, then run down to the pier. You'll get a cutscene showing some black-clad lady standing on the docks, waiting... Don't be rude-go talk to her. Olra will be surprised that you can see her (if you remember, the Dragonforged noted that certain beings could only be seen by Arisen), then she speculates that you are, in fact, Arisen. It just so turns out she needs the Arisen's strength. It was enough to kill the Dragon, so it has to be more than enough for whatever Olra desires, right? Agree to help her and she'll reveal that what you're talking to isn't her real form-just a projection. Her real self is on Bitterblack Isle, where you'll be taken in short order. Watch a cutscene showing the spooky, unwelcoming island, while Olra babbles about fate, choice, and those other tired Dragon's Dogma staples.
Once the cutscene ends you'll find yourself on Bitterblack Isle, all you know is that Olra brought you here and wants you to explore it. Not really much to go on, but for video games did you ever need more than a mere invitation... with the promise of loot... to risk life, limb, and perhaps a few thrown controllers? No, of course not. To the north you'll find the entrance to Bitterblack Isle. South lies the dock upon which your useless boat lies, but direct your attention to the west, where Olra stands on a shoddy wooden platform. When you approach she'll apologize for the lack of information-she doesn't know more than she told you... she's stuck here, and knows you have the power to grant the desires of 'one who dwells below', and it's her job to aid you here. Talk to her and she'll explain (briefly) that she can purify cursed items you find on Bitterblack Isle (for a few Rift Crystals, of course.)
This gives a fine excuse to explain this little mechanic now so you don't need to worry about it later. To prevent shameless gear grinding (like what you may have done in the Everfall) and probably to make life just a bit more complicated, most everything of value you'll find in the depths of Bitterblack Isle is 'cursed'. Cursed items are unidentified and unusable until they are purified, a service only provided by Olra. Bitterblack Isle items come in four types, each ranging three levels of quality: Bitterblack Armor, Bitterblack Gear, Bitterblack Novelties and Bitterblack Weapons. The higher the level, the more Rift Currency purification costs. Armor and weapons should be self-explanatory, while 'Gear' typically means random jewelry with bonuses to various skills, resistances and attributes. Novelties are... everything else. Materials, superior tools, and scrolls from which you can learn new Augments. The Rift Currency costs of each type are noted below:
|Bitter Black Armor||1||4,200|
Olra also kindly offers a few other services-she provides inventory management options (deposit/withdraw/combine/change equipment), she allows you to change skills/vocations, and access the online store... which is just another one of Capcom's shameful ways of fleecing you for extra money, and won't be mentioned further. Finally, she'll take you back to Cassardis, but you can always just use a Ferrystone.
The Bitterblack Notice Board
Behind Olra lurks a Notice Board. Like the ones on the mainland, these give you random fetch/kill quests and many reward you with Bitterblack Isle gear. You'll find a few more of them as you explore, which have different quests on them. As you complete the initial quests, more will pop up, so... yeah, you get the drill-check them regularly. South of the Notice Board is a bed, if you need to catch some z's, while behind the Notice Board is a junk-bearing rounded chest. For the last of the services in the area, head north-east of the Notice Board to find a Rift Stone and static Portcrystal, which will allow you to use Ferrystones to teleport back here from Gransys, should you care to.
Exploring the Exterior
If you follow a pair of southern paths - one leading east and one leading west - you'll reach some gates you can't open yet. They're shortcuts that'll allow you to return to the surface from the depths... once you reach the other side. Funny how you can blast apart a Dragon, but some metal gates-unmovable. If you search along the cliffs along the way you'll find some mining spots which can contain new materials, including Hunks of Platinum, Lava Rocks, Moonstones, as well as a variety of more familiar materials. New stuff, it has to be good, right? At the very least, expect to see these new materials appear in item upgrade requirements soon enough.
Short-cuts pointed out, new materials... it's all good stuff, but if you want to score some loot with a bit more rarity, explore the path east of the dock where your boat is moored. As you head uphill counter-clockwise, notice some pillars lining the seaside cliffs to the south. The eastern-most one is unusually short... short enough to be scaled. If you have Double Vault you can easily reach the top of this pillar-if you have Levitate you'll need to head uphill a bit to get the height required. A good running leap can do the trick, too... but in this case only Levitate matters. Once on top of the pillar turn south to spot a ledge-part of a natural stone pillar jutting out from the sea. Only with Levitate (and a properly aired-out one, at that) can you make it from the pillar to the ledge to the south. Once on the ledge, continue south to find a ramp that rises to the east to reach the top of this pillar, which continues to elevate to the north, until it terminates at a ledge practically pointing you another platform across a gap. Ignore it for now, instead search the ground around the south-western part of this pillar to find a strange statue lying on the rocky ground. Pick up this Macabre Sculpture (#1) , which is the whole point of this diversion.
Note: Macabre Sculptures are collectibles strewn throughout Bitterblack Isle. They'll be pointed out as you come across them. It's also worth noting that on subsequent playthroughs, you keep all obtained Macabre Sculptures, but they respawn throughout Bitterblack Isle... so, if you fail to collect them all in one playthrough, no worries-you can just keep stacking them up on subsequent playthroughs. Seems like an oversight, to me. Whatever the case, this makes it quite easy to eventually obtain all these collectibles, which are the object of several Notice Board quests. Try to get as many as you can, of course... but to preserve your sanity, you might want to ignore some of the more difficult sculptures. Obtaining them ranges in difficulty, from 'pick up the sculpture lying in the bushes' to 'grab a harpy in mid-flight and try to direct it to an elevated ledge'. Since such feats of dexterity aren't required, why bother?
After you score the Macabre Sculpture... might as well grab another one. Head to the elevated northern edge of this pillar and-with your trusty Levitation skill-make an epic leap from this pillar to another natural stone ledge to the north. Actually, you don't even need Levitate for this part-a good running jump will get you across... but why not embellish? Continue north and leap across small breaches in the walkway. When the path terminates look north-west to spot the top of a stone column just below you. You should see the Macabre Sculpture (#2) sitting on top, just waiting for you. Jump down and grab it. You can now make your way back the way you came, or descend by jumping onto a number of ledges to the north-east.
Return to Olra's clearing and head north to reach some large double-doors. They'll open ominously as you approach. Continue north to spot a gravestone-the 'Monument of Remembrance'. It's currently useless to us, but in the depths of Bitterblack Isle you'll be able to find "Recollections of another Arisen" tablets. Pretty much glowing lights near tablets, upon which stories-the stories of other, less successful Arisen-are inscribed. One of several scavenger hunts in Bitterblack Isle, these tablets will fill out the first ten spots on the Monument of Remembrance. The last two, #11 and #12, will be updated as you progress through Bitterblack Isle. These stories will explore how Arisen, Pawns, the Dragon, and the great cycle are inter-connected.
From just behind (north of) the Monument of Remembrance turn west to find a spiked fence with a brazier behind it. The fence is not complete, and where it opens you can find some rocks leading to the canal below. Drop down carefully and at the western end of the canal you will find a junk-filled square chest. Turn east and head under an arch to find another junky square chest at the end of the eastern canal.
You might have obtained some Rift Currency from these chests, which is all the excuse that's needed to point something else out about Dark Arisen: Rift Currency drops much more frequently on Bitterblack Isle than anywhere on Gransys, and in different quantities. You'll still get them rather frequently from monsters, but also from chests and smashed objects. This is a good thing, as purifying Bitterblack Isle items costs Rift Currency and you'll be needing, obtaining, and spending much more Rift Currency on Bitterblack Isle.
The preliminaries are now done. Head back west, climb up the rocks, and head north from the Monument of Remembrance to reach a door, a door that leads to the depths of Bitterblack Isle...