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Last time, the Mage They Call Jayne(z) died quite a bit. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and all that. Thanks to the wondrous magic of "Rez Spells"™, death was in no way permanent. Oh, video games. Where else can you die and live to complain about it?
After going up against some nifty bosses and actually not winning, Jayne(z) decided that he'd had enough of this zone for now-besides, he didn't like it ANYWAY. So THERE! He made his way to the gentle rolling plains of Nagrand, ran into Sir Hemet Nesingwary of Nesingwary's "Gank Me" Expedition, and ended up in Garadar, home of the Mag'har tribe of brown Orcs.
I kinda wonder what makes them "Brown." I mean, they're definitely biological kin: we see Kilrogg Deadeye's son, Grom Hellscream's son, Saurfang's son... and they're all brown, not green like their kin. Strange. Perhaps it's something in Outland? Let's just say a wizard (Medivh!) did it.
As one can expect, there's a boatload of quests for yours truly, with objectives all over the massive zone of Nagrand. I can tell right away that this is going to be a blast. No, really, it's actually pretty cool. But what would I be without my sarcasm? Certainly not your loveable, humble, narrator!
I've got quests up the wazoo, which is a very uncomfortable place for quests. Apparently, the Mag'har had another village far to the West, which was then invaded by the Murkblood tribe of Broken, who slaughtered most of the inhabitants. But since the Greatmother is sick and dying, Garrosh Hellscream can't get off his emo ass and go do something. So, the orcs ask if a certain awesomely nifty Mage can go help them get revenge. Unfortunately, as revenge is against my code, I have to decline.
Just kidding. You know me better than that, people! I'm all over that revenge thing.
In a pleasant discovery, each Broken killed awards me with 10 Mag'har reputation. Since there are groups of Murkblood Scavengers that have next to no HP, this becomes a very quick way to grind rep. Not that I really see a point to it (the only faction rewards I've seen thus far are some nifty epic mounts at Exalted, but I've got other things to do!) but... it's nice anyway.
Nearby, I encounter Saurfang the Younger-not yet ascended to ULTIMATE BADASS status like his father, but tough enough-and two Mag'Har Elders, who relate the tragic story about how the Warmaul Ogres attacked their caravan and kidnapped their people. I go kick some ass, set some Orcs free, you know the drill. I'm starting to think that being a Mag'har Orc sucks, by the way.
Of course, this entire time I'm also accomplishing quests from that ol' Nesingwary. No longer content with asking players to kill 12 or 15 of a creature type, Hemet and Pals ask for a hefty 30 kills per quest in their drive to make everything on Outland extinct. Well, not everything-just the Clefthooves, the Talbuks (think antelopes) and the Windrocs.
Far to the southwest, there's a large mountain called Oshu'gun, surrounded by Voidspawns, various Ethereals, and at least one gigantic Gronn called Durn the Hungerer that gives me a bit of a scare. 10g say I have to kill him at some point. Any takers? Didn't think so.
I wonder what the point of Oshu'gun is, but talking to NPCs in Aeris Point helps clear it up. Apparently, Oshu'gun is the most massive diamond in the known universe, and the Ethereals from the Consortium are out to mine it. So, they want me to help by killing some of the other Ethereals who are looking to get it first, getting rid of the Voidspawns, et cetera. They mention that the Naaru aren't very happy with their plans to mine Oshu'gun, but figure that they can take the Oshu'Gun Crystal Fragments off the corpses of the renegade Ethereals that were already mined. Yay, a quest!
Another Ethereal asks me for three Ivory Tusks from the Wild Elekk (elephant-creatures and the Draenei mount) that inhabit Nagrand. He assures me he has an "understanding" with the Draenei and the Orcs, but I'm not entirely sure I trust him. There's something fishy about the Consortium... but since it hasn't been explicitly said in a quest yet, I suppose I got nothin'.
Incidentally, almost every mob in Nagrand has a chance to drop "Oshu'gun Crystal Powder," which you turn in at Halaa (when you control it) for 3 gold, 6k XP, and a Halaa Research Token... but more on Halaa later. Believe me, there will be LOTS of information on Halaa, because it is t3h awesomez.
There's a Stonehenge-y thing up to the north called the Throne of the Elements, where four gigantic Elemental guards roam around a quartet of Shamans who give you various quests to restore harmony to the elements, largely by finding things and killing them. Apparently, it's a hub for both factions, and my curiosity at how Blizzard is planning on making it less of a Nesingwary-esque death zone is appeased when I try to fireball a Warrior, and get crushed by Gordawg (Fury of Earth) for about 21k damage.
Ouch. Ok, lesson thoroughly learned.
One of the more amusing quests in the zone is from the Throne of Elements, where a Broken shaman tells me that I'll need something to let me breathe underwater, and a particular berry can do the trick. Unfortunately, the best way to find them is to sift through the dung piles of the Nagrand wildlife.
...ew? Sometimes I think the quest writers at Blizzard have a very twisted sense of humor.
There's also a very cool and very rewarding questline called the Ring of Blood. While turning in some quests at Garadar, I notice a Mag'har Gladiator training for something while a bunch of kids watch. I talk to him and he mentions the "Ring of Blood" in the Laughing Skull ruins to the North, but tells me I don't have the guts or the strength. I'm not nearly stupid enough to enter the Ring, am I?
Oh, I'm twice as stupid as that!
To the Laughing Skull ruins, folks!
There are quite a few Warmaul Ogres around (and I take the opportunity to put them down for a quest), but there's something unique a bit farther into the ruined town. There's a pit dug in the ground, and I see some Horde and Alliance waiting around it. There's a large Ogre called Mogor <Hero of the Warmaul>, and a smaller Goblin named Gurgthock next to him.
The Ring of Blood, as the name might suggest, is a pit for combat. Mortal combat, in fact-but it's not a video game.
Er, actually, it kind of is. But that's not important! The Ring of Blood is, for all intents and purposes, Thunderdome. Two men (or Orcs, or Trolls, or Elves, or Gnomes, or teams thereof) enter... one man (or Orc, or Troll, or Elf, or Gnome, or team thereof) leaves. Oh, society-legalized violence. My kind of thing!
The Goblin offers to sponsor me in the Ring of Blood, but doesn't have much confidence in my abilities at first. It must be the dress. I laugh in his face and tell him that I'll take whatever he throws at me, no problem! My first adversary is a giant Clefthoof named Brokentoe. I've soloed Elite quests before, so the fact that it's marked as such doesn't mean a thing. The Mage They Call Jayne(z) enters the Ring of Blood, solo and confident.
One corpse run later, I decide that I should probably get some allies. Ow.
Two warriors, a shaman, a priest, and myself. Time to rock.
It turns out that with a party, the fight isn't that bad. It really does require a proper healer and tank, though. Brokentoe falls, and Gurgthock applauds my victory. (and gives me 11 gold and a nice chunk of XP. I think I'm going to like this quest...) But it's not over yet! Round two is against a pair of Murkblood twins calling themselves the Blue Brothers...
Blue Brothers? More like... BLACK and Blue brothers! Because they're... bruised! 'cause we hit them! A lot!
...don't judge me.
Fight #3 is against Rokdar the Sundered Lord, a Mountain Giant (but not the cute friendly kind we know from Azeroth, a big spiky ugly brute) from the Blade's Edge Mountains. He's not particularly hard, though he does hit like a truck-and his size makes it hard to get a good screenshot. Once Rokdar goes down, Gurgthock ups the prize, giving us 5 Super Health Potions and 5 Super Mana Potions in addition to the gold and XP. Sweet deal!
The fourth bout is Skra'gath, one of those armored Void Lords we've been seeing about (like Pandemonius). He's got some shadow damage, but really, not all that hard. This is cake! Easy cake, too!
Hey, Gurgthock tells me (and my party) that the next bout is against the Warmaul Champion himself to defend his title. How bad can it be, eh?
All the other fighters spawned in the ring. However, the Champion-a large armored Murkblood warrior-walks in from the outside. Once he nears the ring, he turns immediately hostile and attacks anybody nearby. In this case, it happens to be our Shaman, who wasn't really paying attention. Before we can blink, our totem-dropping pal is hamburger.
This guy hits hard. VERY hard. Our one healer can't really outheal his damage, especially with Mortal Strike, and we wipe.
The next time, we're all very careful to stay in the ring and let our tank aggro him first. This time, he's an armored Ethereal. I'd also see an Orc and an Ogre, so I guess it's just randomly chosen. Though he still hits like a truck, we beat him this time.
During all five fights, the big Ogre, Mogor, has been jeering us and insulting us. When the Champion falls, the brute is so incensed that he decides to take us down himself. There's no way puny insects like us can beat him!
Bring it on, pudgy, our WoW Fu is strong. And you've got one critical weakness... an aggro list. HA! And double HA!
Mogor isn't nearly as hard as the Champion was by any stretch of the imagination, though he does give us a bit of a start when he gets up again after dying once. Lousy Reincarnation. We beat Mogor and are hailed as the new Heroes of the Warmaul! Go us! There are also some very nice rewards, a choice of six weapons. They're all Nefarian-quality or better, which should be a very nice surprise for non-raiders in the expansion. The Battle-Mage's Baton, in fact, is a direct upgrade in every possible way from my Staff of the Shadow Flame... at least, it will be when I get it enchanted.
Also, fifteen Super Mana/Health pots, twenty Netherweave bandages, sixty-six gold, and forty-eight thousand XP for that chain. Pretty damn nice.
I've dropped the name "Warmaul" a lot lately. The whole deal with the Warmaul tribe of Ogres is actually a major part of the overarching Nagrand storyline, at least on the Horde side. A quest sends me to investigate why a bunch of Boulderfist Ogres have set up shop in the old Burning Blade ruins, displacing some of the Mag'har. Our scout has me beat up one of their leaders for information, which I do so gladly. The Ogre leader tells me that his people had no choice but to move, since they were kicked out of their own homes by the new Warmaul tribe, a conglomeration of other tribes under a brutal new leader.
I report this to the superiors back in Garadar, and they tell me to go to the ruins and talk to the Boulderfist leader. Surprisingly enough, the leader is an Orc. Even more surprisingly-and awesomely-he's a Blademaster. Hooray for Warcraft 3 heroes!
And so, I fight my way up to the Blademaster and talk. No, really, we actually talk diplomatically. I'm as shocked as you are, I tell you! Apparently, he's only half-Orc, with both Orcish and Draenei...ish... blood in his veins.
He scoffs at the Mag'har offer to pull back their forces if he does the same, saying that if Boulderfist does not destroy them, Warmaul will.
However, he thinks there is another way... there's a Shadow Council encampment to the South. Perhaps we can play Warmaul and the Shadow Council off one another?
That's as far as I am in that current quest line. It's around this time that I stop questing completely for the night, because of the MOST AWESOME EVENT EVAR.
To those of you who want to avoid spoilers, well, I'll see you next time. You might want to cut and run while you still have the chance! This event is, yes, insanely awesome... but you might want to witness it yourself. Still, it'll be hard to avoid the spoilers all together.
You've been warned. :P
SPOILERS ARE BELOW. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Okay, here we go.
You may recall in one of my earlier entries the Mag'har questline in Hellfire Peninsula. The one where Thrall decides to make his triumphant return to Outland.... And then decides not to go because he's got far too many enemies in Azeroth. Prudent decision, if a rather anticlimactic way to end the quest chain.
The guild I'm in on the beta server is undoubtedly a zerg guild. Anyone who wants in, gets in. It's great for finding groups, but it also means that the same questions like "Where's Krun Spinebreaker?" or "Is 'Kill The Messenger' bugged?" get asked a few dozen times per day. Still, it's a small price to pay.
As I'm merrily questing along, our guild leader (shout out to Fenriz!) says, in guild chat, "Hey, um... I think Thrall's going to Outland." Not knowing that he's level 67 and has already DONE that chain, there are a bunch of people who respond with "Nah, he's not, he changes his mind, it kinda sucks," and the like.
"No, guys, I'm serious. I think Thrall is going to Outland."
Now I, myself, have not yet done this chain. All I know for sure is that it's very long, involves almost all the quests in Garadar, and ends with gathering herbs for the Greatmother-though it can only delay her death, not prevent it. You talk with the Greatmother, and she reveals that she is, in fact, the mother of Durotan.
Yes, that Durotan.
Greatmother Geyah is Thrall's grandmother. She asks the player to go to Orgrimmar and tell her grandson what is happening on the other side of the Dark Portal. Tell him about his heritage.
For Thrall, then, there is only one option.
I'm just reading the conversation, intrigued, a little confused, and not paying too much attention when I read one of those zone-wide emotes saying "war drums echo in the distance."
And then, I read a zone-wide yell. "Thrall yells: At long last, I am home."
I hastily mount and ride to Garadar, where I see two long columns of level 72/73 elite Wolf Riders making an honor guard along the entrance to the town. A bunch of us wait there for Thrall to walk in for a minute or two, but then are told "Hey, Thrall's here already, in the inn!"
Thrall, Warchief of the Orcish Horde, is sitting on a mat opposite Greatmother Geyah.
She tells him about his father, how proud Durotan was of his unborn child... and tells him the true Orcish name that his father had chosen. He is Go'el, son of Durotan and Draka, and Geyah's grandchild. Thrall tells her about the fate of Orgrim Doomhammer and the other heroes of the Horde, such as Grom Hellscream.
When Grom Hellscream slew Mannoroth, he ended the curse of blood on the Orcish race. However, nobody on this side of the Dark Portal knew that. The last Garrosh Hellscream knew of his father was that Grom had been the first clan chieftain to drink of the cursed blood, damning his clan and his race. His downtrodden demeanor is not only due to the impending death of the Greatmother, but the thought of his father as a traitor to the whole Orcish race.
Of course, Thrall can hardly believe this. Greatmother Geyah asks him to tell the young Hellscream what his father was really like. Thrall decides to one-up her... he'll show him!
Thrall runs out of the inn, and twenty Horde follow him. He asks Garrosh to follow, and goes to a ring where he invokes the spirits-being a Shaman, and all that. I do find it amusing that even though we're playing on a PvP server, nearly all of us /kneel before him during this event. It's that cool.
Though we're all confused about what Thrall means by "Show him," we soon find out. Three miniature, ghostly figures materialize on the ground: two Orcs and a Pit Lord. There's an in-game recreation of the battle between Thrall, Grom, and Mannoroth, complete with voiceover from the actual cinematic in Warcraft 3. Though the movie version is obviously much more dramatic visually, this is still awesome beyond belief.
Garrosh Hellscream watches as his father faces off with Mannoroth mano-a-mano, kills the demon, and dies, having freed the Orcish race from their curse. He collapses to the ground, unable to believe this... but then rises, thanking Thrall for showing this to him. He now knows what his father truly was like, and resolves that he will carry on Grommash Hellscream's legacy. With a triumphant shout, all Horde players and NPCs in Nagrand receive a zone-wide buff: "Hellscream's Warsong," which functions almost identically to "Warchief's Blessing."
The younger Hellscream returns to his post, no longer as morose and crestfallen (at least not for those who've done the quest, he's still all emo to me). Thrall returns to the Greatmother, and they sit in silence for a while until we realize that the event is over and there's no more dialogue.
Yeah. I'd say that's probably the coolest thing in WoW, um, ever. It even beats out the awesomeness that is the Caverns of Time... but hey, that's another story.
Until next time!