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Let's Do the Time Warp Again!
Last time, the Mage They Call Jayne(z) bore witness to quite possibly the most awesome event ever in the whole entire world. Of Warcraft. Though some might consider it a bit unfair that the Horde gets this awesome-possum nifty-socks in-game cutscene, you guys had Onyxia and Bolvar Fordragon since launch-so think of this as sweet payback.
From what my guildies had told me, after hitting level 66 I had some new options available to me. Some new quests, and a particularly cool new instance to run. I'd run through Hellfire Citadel and the Slave Pens quite a bit, and couldn't find any Auchindoun groups... but this one was popular. This one was cool. So, I packed my Travelers' Backpacks and decided it was time to go back to Azeroth!
After spending a bit of time looking for a good group, I took a portal to Thunder Bluff and started flying down to Tanaris. Oh, Tanaris. Good times, good times.
By the way, there's been a subtle theme thus far in the entry. Can you guess what it is?
If you guessed "Time," you're wrong! It was actually "Italics," you silly nubcakes! That's right-I was headed to the Caverns of Slightly Slanted Letters!
Oh. Maybe it was Time after all. Sorry, my bad.
Yep, that's right! It's time for us to travel! Through, um... time! With the Caverns of... er, Time!
I think I could have said that better. Oh well, no turning back-I shall press on.
While the Thrall-in-Outland event was undoubtedly the coolest thing I've seen yet in the Burning Crusade (and remains so), the Caverns of Time come very, very close. The Bronze Dragonflight is just cool overall. It seems that they've also been the most involved with the story thus far in WoW. I mean, we've killed Onyxia and Neffy, and there is that whole OMG-Lady-Prestor-is-Onyxia story, but other than that (and the Dark Iron/Blackrock War) the Black Flight has had minimal story impact. The Green Flight... well, there's Eranikus and the four corrupted Dragons, as well as the Nightmare in the Emerald Dream, but that really hasn't reached full bore yet. Other than Azuregos, there's no real representation of the Blue Flight in-game, and the Red Flight is almost totally missing except for Vaelastrasz (poor Vael...).
Meanwhile, the Bronze Flight had the whole Ahn'Qiraj thing-granted, it was kinda all four of the flights who contributed, but the Brood of Nozdormu was the only one in the present day keeping watch over the Scarab Walls. They also give you EPIX, which is more than any of the other flights ever did.
So, yeah. Bronze Dragonflight is cool. Forgive my "Yay Lore!" rambling, por favor.
Er, I suppose I might as well preface this with a SPOILER WARNING. Last time, it was just the Thrall Event that was spoiler-riffic, but this entire article... well, there are some people who might want to experience it for themselves.
SPOILER ALERT: THE FOLLOWING SEGMENT CONTAINS MASSIVE SPOILERS AND HIGH LEVELS OF "TOTALLY AWESOME" THAT MAY BE UNHEALTHY FOR THE ELDERLY, SMALL CHILDREN, AND CANADIANS. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Arriving in Tanaris, I take a brief nostalgic sojourn through Gadgetzan, but sadly find no Alliance to gank. In general, Azeroth is pretty dead, though there are some Blood Elves and Draenei getting high in level (including a pair of 58+ Blood Elf Paladins that must be absolutely insane to have leveled so quickly). I make my way to the Caverns of Time, and feel, to be honest, pretty damn excited. Ever since I was a little nublet caster questing in Tanaris and saw this "Caverns of Time" place, I've always really wanted to go inside. And now I can-without any ghost-run exploiting or anything.
Pretty damn cool.
The three drakes that fly back and forth seem to be gone, though I find them over on the side (so people can, for whatever reason, finish the Horde Onyxia key quest chain).
Anachronos, Mr. It-is-not-my-time himself, is also on the side of the path, no longer standing watch in front of the entrance. The entrance itself is open, and there's a bronze Drake flying just inside, and speaking with him causes me to become Neutral with the "Keepers of Time" faction. That's right, the Bronze Flight is so awesome that they get two factions in-game!
He asks me if I want to be transported to the Master's Lair. This isn't the first time I've been to the Caverns of Time since they opened the door (though there weren't any working instances then)... there are some interesting things on the way, including a Tavern of Time (oh, Blizzard...), and several vendors including a male Orc who speaks with a female Orc voice.
Yeah, that was kinda weird. But it's a long run, so I accept the quest-and am whisked away by another bronze drake and flown to the central chamber, where the Timeless One keeps watch over the past, present, and future.
I can't target him, so you know he's serious business.
There are two Blood Elf children standing nearby, named Andormu and Nozari. I talk to them and they give me a quest to follow a Custodian of Time (in the form of a Blood Elf female) around, and listen to her explain what the deal is. This, I can do.
The Custodian takes me around the giant chamber, explaining to me Blizzard's concept of time in Azeroth, and how it's always changing and stuff. The Bronze Flight keeps close watch on the streams of time, making sure nobody messes around with anything (because if you read Ray Bradbury, watch The Simpsons, or have seen "The Butterfly Effect," you know that messing with the past = bad). Unless the flow of time continues as it should, the present would cease to exist as we know it. Vendors would sell epics! Trainers would pay us to respec! Drakkisath would realize "Hey, why am I following this stupid little Hunter when there are nine other squishies killing my bodyguards"!
Unfortunately, it seems as though there's a mysteeeeerious group of dragons known as the "Infinite Dragonflight" that seeks to do exactly that. There are three known timeways under assault by the Infinites. They seek to change the events of the Battle of Hyjal in one timeway (though this is not yet open), and wish to prevent Medivh from ever opening the Dark Portal in a second. The third timeway in danger leads to Hillsbrad, seven years in the past.
Thrall, seven years ago, was not a Warchief. He was not a Shaman. He was a slave gladiator under the control of Blackmoore, a corrupt human officer who raised the young orc and trained him in tactics, combat, and leadership-he was also the head of all the Internment Camps throughout Azeroth, and intended to install Thrall as the puppet leader of a new Horde which he would then use to conquer his foes. The daughter of his secretary was a girl named Taretha, who thought of Thrall as a surrogate brother-and he thought of her as a sister.
In the real timeline, Taretha Foxton set a diversion that allowed Thrall to escape from his jailors at Durnholde Keep. However, the Infinite Dragonflight, seeking to change history, has kidnapped Taretha. If she can't set off the diversion, Thrall can't escape and fulfill his destiny... and boom, there goes the present.
The Bronze Dragonflight is doing what they can, but it falls squarely on the shoulders of some plucky adventurers to make sure that existence doesn't get wiped out. Taretha can't set a diversion, so we're going to have to do it in her place! I kinda like existing, so this seems like a pretty smart thing to do. Also, there are nifty rewards.
Mr. Peabody and Sherman had their Wayback Machine. The Doctor has the TARDIS. Bill & Ted have their phone booth, Homer Simpson has his toaster. Crono has the Epoch, Link has his Ocarina, and Calvin has his cardboard box. We, on the other hand, have a swirly instance portal.
Good enough for me! Onward, into the Caverns of Time: Escape from Durnholde Keep!
Snake Plissken, eat your heart out.
You may be wondering how it is that a motley crew of Trolls, Tauren, Undead, and Orcs can accomplish this task without being attacked on sight by, well, everybody. I wondered the same thing.
When you enter the Caverns of Time, you receive a buff called "Human Illusion" that transforms you into a Human. On the one hand, unlike similar changes (Orb of Deception, for example) you keep all of your gear, which is kind of cool. On the other, I'm a really ugly human.
It makes sense, though. I mean, nobody's seen a Tauren or a Forsaken before at this point in time, and Orcs and Trolls are hardly welcome into human society. I'd imagine the same would hold true with Draenei and Night Elves, though I admit I'm curious to see if Blood Elves, Gnomes, and Dwarves (hell, Humans too) receive any appearance changes-because those races wouldn't be exactly out of place in Lordaeron at the time.
I talk to the representative of the Bronze Flight, who tells me what my mission is and how exactly I'm supposed to accomplish it. The party is supposed to destroy the five Internment Barracks in Durnholde Keep, and gives me a stack of Incendiary Explosives to accomplish the task.
Oh, HELL yes.
Before going to Durnholde and starting the mission, I decide to explore a bit. Nearby, I see the town of Southshore-though, as a "Human," they're all friendly to me. Welcome change, to be sure. Southshore and the surrounding areas bear none of the signs of war that present-day Hillsbrad is littered with. It's fairly cool to see a bunch of familiar faces, in fact.
Bartolo Ginsetti is standing where he'll be in seven years' time, talking about how the cloaks he makes will one day be famous worldwide! Down on the docks, Nat Pagle and his friend Hal McAllister go fishin', while the goblin Zixil [Aspiring Merchant] is busy working on his Overwatch Protector Mark 0.
There's a trio of children running around town with names anybody over level 40 will recognize: Sally Whitemane, Renault Mograine, and Little Jimmy Vishas (okay, maybe not him-poor Vishas gets so lonely all by himself in the Graveyard).
There's also a bigger kid called Herod the Bully. I guess he wasn't always waiting for a "real challenge," unless giving the younger Mograine wedgies counts.
I briefly wonder exactly how old the SM cast is, because these kids look pretty damn young-certainly not older than 10. Hm. A discrepancy, perhaps? Or maybe it's just that there aren't any teenager models in-game?
Inside the Town Hall, I encounter a familiar face-Nathanos Morris, the Blightcaller-to-be. I snicker in amusement as I notice he's only level 48. Outside, I run into two wizards, one fairly obscure (Helcular) and the other... well, it's Kel'Thuzad. Do you think we'd get phat lewtz if we killed him here? Or does that sort of thing only come with being a Lich?
Though this is all pretty damn cool, it's not until I go inside the Inn that I realize how jaw-droppingly awesome it really is. There are several figures situated around a table: Arcanist Doan, (Grand Inquisitor) Isillien, (High General) Abbendis, (High Inquisitor) Fairbanks, Highlord Mograine, and Tirion Fordring-the only one of the six, I note with amusement, that players aren't tasked to kill. Mograine talks about the rumors of an Undead Plague to the north, and he and Fordring agree that they must prepare to battle the Undead here in Lordaeron.
Mograine shows the rest of them (apparently not bothered in the least by the presence of a stranger who's standing there listening to the entire thing) a crystal he took from an Orc at the battle of Blackrock Spire, a crystal of unimaginable evil that caused his hand to wither at the mere touch. There's some sort of weird logic here about how if this crystal exists, its opposite must exist as well. But then, er, I guess that the crystal IS the opposite, because the six Paladins start doing their whole Holy Shock thing to it, find that it absorbs the Light... and eventually, the evil of the crystal is obliterated, and the new Light Crystal heals Mograine's withered hand. They then decide to make a weapon out of this crystal, one that will reduce their enemies to ash... Ashbringer.
Then, they don't say anything more so I guess it's time to leave. Upstairs, a still-human Stalvan Mistmantle slumbers away, while a young Taelan Fordring carries his father's hammer around in the next room. There's also a bunch of Kirin Tor mages studying under the guidance of one Phin Odelic.
All in all, Southshore seven years ago is pretty much a "Who's Who" of important characters-nifty to the max.
Having wasted enough time, I return to the Bronze Dragonflight representatives and then accept the offer to travel directly to Durnholde Keep. The party gathers and we go in... it turns out that either these guys can somehow detect that we're not really humans, or they're just aggressive bastards, since the guards will aggro us on sight.
We drop down into the trench where the Orc Prisoners live in their little shacks-the very shacks we're assigned to burn down. Now, even though there's a group of people killing their jailers, the Orcs are apparently incredibly lazy and don't join the fight either way-unless you accidentally target them, in which case they attack. Lousy neutral Orcs.
We make our way down the line of barracks, placing the explosives in each one, killing guards all along the way. When we plant the incendiary bombs in the fifth and final internment building, they all go off and the five buildings burst into flames. The Orc Prisoners, seeing their captivity burn, all /cheer in the courtyard. Although... it's not like they're getting out of there, and now all this means is they don't have a roof over their head to sleep under. Silly neutral Orcs.
This attracts the attention of one Lieutenant Drake, the first boss of the zone. He doesn't really do anything of note except a Herod-style Whirlwind (or, rather, I guess this means that Herod does a Lt. Drake-style Whirlwind...) but we've seen those plenty of times. We kill Drake, and now that the diversion is ready, it's time to get Thrall out of there!
I honestly have to question why we needed the diversion in the first place, because we're just going to end up killing all the guards in our way regardless.
Thrall, in his solitary cell down in the basement of the Keep, tells us about his dreams for a new Horde after we lie to him and say we're friends of Taretha, sent in her stead. We break him out of the place and the escape is on!
The young Warchief-to-be decides he needs a weapon and armor, and when the head of the Durnholde Armory tries to call for help, Thrall punches him once and knocks him out. Because that's just how he rolls.
The escape is like most escort quests, except Thrall can A: really hold his own, and B: doesn't like to slow down. There are various packs of four or five guards that spawn to interrupt his flight, and while the party is drained after most of the encounters, Thrall just keeps on running ahead. We actually wipe once because of this-the healers have no mana, plain and simple. Though the Bronze Flight is nice enough to reset time for us after they kill Thrall, giving us another shot, it makes me wonder why they need us at all. They can control time itself. Can't you just go back to whenever the Infinite Dragonflight decided to mess with reality and make them forget it?
For that matter, what's all this "We don't know" stuff? Assuming that they, at some point in the linear future, would find out... wouldn't their time-traveling future selves then impart the knowledge to themselves in the past? Bah, time travel makes my head hurt.
After realizing that Thrall can take the packs on his own for a few seconds, we rest up after pulls and then go in fresh, healing the Orc to full in the process. That's much easier. We deal with about five or six packs of guards before exiting the Keep-but it's not over yet! A rider approaches with two guards... Captain Skarloc, the rider, and Thrall exchange a few words before we go into boss fight #2! Skarloc, too, is a pretty easy fight. No problems there.
Once the Captain has fallen, Thrall is free to go off and see Taretha, who he decides must be in Tarren Mill. He totally ninjas Captain Skarloc's mount and rides off. We mount up and follow him for our own little raid on Tarren Mill. It's like the good old days all over again!
For some reason, Thrall decides that Taretha MUST be in a barn. Because, y'know, she spends all her time there anyways...? Don't look at me, I have no idea. The barn is, of course, empty aside from a horse named "Young Blanchy."
Since she's not in the barn, she has to be in the Inn! This is, actually, true. There's an "Innkeeper Monica" there, who I guess is the Monika Sengutz currently in the TM Inn. Why she changed her name, no idea.
Taretha is upstairs, surrounded by a little ball of darkness. She and Thrall chat, she says that it was a wizard who tricked her and imprisoned her. After they talk a bit, there comes a voice from outside that sounds like a microphone with a bit too much reverb. The voice announces that Taretha's life hangs in the balance and that Thrall's future must not come to pass.
It's the Epoch Hunter, drake of the Infinite Dragonflight and final boss of Old Hillsbrad. He talks about how he didn't want to get involved but THOSE MEDDLING KIDS leave him no choice...!
He then spawns some waves of elite Infinite Dragonkin, who are unfortunately a higher level than us and resistant to magic damage. When your party consists of a Mage, a Moonkin, a Shadow Priest, and an Elemental Shaman (and a Warrior), spell-resistant mobs suck. Especially because they're also on a timer in addition to the whole "kill all three, spawn more" deal... so we get overwhelmed and wipe.
Take two! We go full-burn and use all our trinketty goodness-and this time, we manage to kill them. After three waves of his little minions, the Epoch Hunter lands to finish the job himself. However, he's considerably easier than the first stage of the event, with his only really special attack being a breath that slows attack and movement speed dramatically.
Once the Epoch Hunter falls, Thrall tells Taretha that he couldn't have done it without "her friends." Taretha is understandably befuddled, because she's never seen any of us before, and says as much. Before it gets awkward, the Bronze Dragonflight erases any memory of our interference from their minds. Thrall and Taretha say their goodbyes and part ways-Thrall goes on to fulfill his destiny, and Taretha... well, her story isn't as happy, but pleasant or not, history has to repeat itself.
Poor Taretha :(
Unfortunately for me, the quest is bugged, and so I can't get my phat rewards-nor do I get attuned to the next Caverns of Time event, which would be the Black Morass and the original opening of the Dark Portal. Boo.
However, perhaps that will all get done... another time.
...okay, yeah, that was just awful.
See ya later! Jayne(z) out.