Platinum Watch – Assassin’s Creed Series – Part 3 – A Platinum and a Trip Back In Time

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The cultists are all dead. My loading screen is littered with the hearts of each and every one of them, but my work was not yet done. After slaughtering anyone and everyone who had anything to do with her family’s fate, Kassandra had to take care of some mythical beasties hanging around the place for reasons I won’t divulge due to spoilers. These were a handful of boss fights which challenged you in different ways, and set against an otherwise historically accurate world, each mythical creature and the story leading up to them stood out as something remarkable. Finishing this task also wrapped up more storylines in a way that gave me more fulfilling closure than the main story did by itself.

But closure aside, Kassandra’s work was still not done! She had bounties to do, quests to undertake on various islands, and, burning deep in her heart, a project more important than dismantling the cult which wronged her family and saving the Greek world, more so than even that… was her desire to visit forty separate underwater objectives and grab all of the treasures within.

Good. God.

WHY.

Whoever implemented that trophy, who hurt you??

Anyway… that took me about 7 straight hours, but to finish off, I took Kassandra on a light jog around the places she had yet to visit in Greece. Have I mentioned it’s a massive place? After landing on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere, I finally completed every trophy there was to grab in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.

PLAT
This could have been a fantastic Platinum pic if she wasn’t mid-jog. Ah, next time.

Well, the pre-DLC trophies that is, anyway. I’ve got three episodes of Legacy of the First Blade and three episodes of Fate of Atlantis to get through! I’m pretty excited to take these on, especially the latter, and see where Kassandra’s story goes after the events of the main game. In fact, I’ve already played through (and perfected) the first episode of the First Blade stuff, and it was a pretty decently sized third of an expansion, I must say. I like how it’s set in underused areas of the main game, though I do hope the Atlantis stuff is set in Atlantis itself, as I’d love to see more of that.

There’s also “Lost Tales of Greece” quests to do (or something like that) which are nice little stories featuring some of the main characters in the game, or just unique little stories by themselves. So far, I’ve helped Herodotos come to terms with his parents deaths, stopped Sokrates being wrongfully imprisoned, and completed a few arbitrary tasks for a woman who thinks she’s Athena. There’s plenty more of these to do and each as their own bronze trophy, and I’m not going to rush them. They’ll probably be the last trophies I acquire in Odyssey, and I’ll chase them whenever I feel like going back and spending some time in Ancient Greece again.

Alongside Odyssey completion, I’ve been playing through Assassin’s Creed II again. Ezio Auditore’s journey is one which popularised the series, and which many people lament the end of. He’s basically the David Tenant’s Doctor of the franchise, in that many people stopped playing after Revelations and refuse to try any of the just-as-good content of later games because it’s a little different. But I digress.

I originally played through AC2 and Brotherhood on PS3 in 2013, after seeing a Youtuber play through Brotherhood. It was my introduction to the series, and in 2016 I went back and played through the complete trilogy on PC. I was about to remark that it’s not been that long since I played through this trilogy, but then I noticed that the time between my first and second playthroughs was shorter than between the second and third. What even is time? Well, I’m playing a game which is set around 2000 years after the game that came out 10 years after it, so you can hardly blame me.

Anyway, Ezio’s story is always a delight to relive, even if the faces have become a little… dated. I’ve mentioned this before, but Ezio’s character development over a long period of time is what sparked my love of fiction which follows characters from a young age to their oldest, latest days. There’s something fascinating about watching someone’s experiences shape them over the entirety of their life. The trilogy opens with Ezio’s idealistic childhood, which swiftly gives way to betrayal, changing him from a naive and typical teenager to a raging, vengeful assassin. The cutscene after he makes his first assassination is breathtaking; the graphics may have aged, but the acting still comes across brilliantly. Then, slowly over the course of AC2, we watch him mature into a more calm, driven assassin. In Brotherhood he becomes a leader, and in Revelations he becomes old. I’d have more to say on those games if I’d reached them yet, but alas, I have not.

Playing AC2 alongside Odyssey has had some interesting consequences. Sometimes, I’ll go back to Odyssey for some DLC quests, try to sprint and immediately unleash a heavy attack on an unsuspecting passerby. Alternatively, I’ll load up AC2 and immediately jump merrily to my death, forgetting that Ezio lacks Kassandra’s shins of steel. In all honesty though, adapting hasn’t been as difficult as I feared, and it’s actually quite fascinating to compare the two side by side. One’s a far greater game for cohesive narrative and atmosphere, while the other excels in scope, choice and longevity.

Now, depsite the fact that I’m loving playing through Ezio’s story again, I must admit to a bit of fatigue. This is my third go-around, after all, and I’m all-too aware of the massive gap in my games played between Revelations and Origins. 3 is downloaded and 4 is currently on sale for like £6. Infuriatingly I had to buy a new controller this month so this is the only Assassin’s Creed on sale that I’ll be able to take advantage of. Either way, though, to avoid burnout, I have a plan:

I’m allowing myself up to two concurrent Assassin’s Creed playthroughs, one which focuses on story, and one which focuses on trophies. So, for example, my Assassin’s Creed Odyssey playthrough is currently focused on story, as I’ve platinumed the game and am on to the DLC now, whereas I plan to 100% Assassin’s Creed II before moving on to Brotherhood, as I’m already familiar with the story and am in no rush. Therefore, if I want to get started on AC3, I need only finish the Odyssey DLC. This also leaves me free to jump from AC3 to AC4 when I finish the story, and go back to do completion at a later date.

Will this work? Hopefully. Am I overthinking things? Absolutely. But with an attention span like mine, you’ve gotta order things somehow. Ooh look, Watch Dogs 2 is on PSNow!

Platinum Watch: Assassin’s Creed Series – Part 2 – These Titles Just Get Worse

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It’s been a long road. I first started this game a year ago, and after a hefty reinstall, a few days getting to grips with the true nature of the game, and a many hours traversing it’s huge open world for one arduous trophy, I finally got there.

I finally Platinumed The Crew 2.

Oh, you thought I was- no, no you silly goose, that would be way too fast! Have you seen the size of ancient Greece? I haven’t even begun to wrap my head around what still needs doing in that game yet! No, no, I’m far from done. I did finish the main story last night, though. And boy, did I get a bad ending. I won’t spoil anything, suffice to say I ended Kassandra’s odyssey at a very terse dinner with characters who weren’t exactly my best choice of company. The thing is, I thought I was making the right decisions; I researched the choice tree, too, and it turns out that by making one dialogue choice, I doomed myself to this ending halfway through the game. Annoyingly, I actually opted for the correct choice, but I didn’t think it’d be right for Kassandra to be so… forgiving… after what had immediately just happened.

That being said, it’s been a long time since I felt less… accomplished at the end of a long RPG story. It wasn’t lacking, but with the combination of my bad choices, the many other avenues of completion still awaiting me, and the DLCs resting in my quest log, I feel like I’ve just crested another chapter in Kassandra’s odyssey. And I suppose, in a way, I have. And I’m completely fine with that – if a little antsy to get started on one of the other titles, too. But I’ll hold off.

Trophies, then. I’m currently sitting at 31/94 trophies, but after mentioning that trophy number in the last blog post, I realised that this also accounts for all DLC trophies – as far as Platinum is concerned, I have 29/50 trophies, which sounds far better. I’ve obviously collected all the trophies for the chapters in the game, culminating in a silver and gold for the last two. I’ve also begun to tick off some of the periphery achievements regarding certain questlines and special assassination targets. In fact, I’m looking at the contents of the hidden trophies for the first time and it’s giving me a much more complete sense of the road I have before me, and it’s perhaps not as long as I once feared.

That being said, I am at a crossroads. I feel like I could go into full trophy hunting mode and clean up a lot of these final trophies before heading into the DLC, but I’m also not patient enough to wait that long before continuing the story. Kassandra is just before Ezio in my list of favourite assassins, and I’m eager to continue / complete her story. I may just work on trophies as a way of levelling to 50, and continue story-wise from there. As for the DLC, I can’t see those trophies being too difficult to obtain, so I’ll be sure to pick them up as I go. I’ve already got two on my travels!

Hilariously, after declaring my intent to purchase the Ezio Collection if it ever went down to £15 in my last blog post, the game has now done just that. I sit here staring at it, wondering if I really need to play through the trilogy from scratch, when new Assassin’s Creed adventures could await me. I did also pick up Origins for £12, after watching some clips of my 2018 self playing it on PC, and determining that I did originally buy it on sale, too. I feel less weird about buying it twice when I know that both purchases don’t add up to the full price. Plus, Origins is rad.

Okay. I’m rambling. Gonna go get some trophies now. Peace.

Platinum Watch – Assassin’s Creed Series – Part 1 – An Ambitious Beginning

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I’m 46 hours into Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and it’s showing no signs of ending. This is my third time visiting the game, by which I mean the two or three weeks I spend playing before I end up giving in to my short attention span and wandering off to have another gander at an Elder Scrolls game or The Witcher 3 instead. And as I stare at my quest log, noting how the game continues to give me quests two levels higher than me and subtly winking towards the store’s timesaver packs, I realise something.

I want to get every Platinum trophy that an Assassin’s Creed game can offer.

This is obviously a terrible idea, not least because I own more than half of the franchise on PC rather than PS4. But the idea grips me before the cold embrace of reality can wrap its clammy fingers around me, and before I know it I’m writing a blog post about the thing, declaring to the world my intent to set out on this task which I surely won’t come close to completing. Platting (which is what the cool kids call 100%ing a game on PS4) Odyssey itself looks to be a monumental task. Still, while I’m giving my fickle attention span the benefit of the doubt, let’s lay out my history with the Assassin’s Creed series and see what kind of task lays ahead of me.

AC1 – Began on PS3, has no trophies but would like to complete in line with the rest sometime
AC2 – Finished the story on PC, plus 33 of 51 trophies on PS3
AC:Brotherhood – Finished the story on PC, only 6 of 61 trophies on PS3
AC:Revelations – Finished the story on PC
AC3: Barely touched on PC, own on PS4
AC: Liberation – Never played, own on PS4
ACIV: Black Flag – Never played, owned for free on PC
AC: Freedom Cry – Never played, I know literally nothing about this one.
AC: Rogue – Never played, might have gotten it free on PC?
AC: Unity – Never played, got it for free on PC
AC: Syndicate – Never played, think I got it for free on PC (they’ve given a few out huh)
AC: Origins – Played a decent chunk of it on PC, but it doesn’t perform great on my rig
AC: Odyssey – 46 hours in on PS4, and only 20 of 94 trophies collected babyyyyy
AC: Valhalla – Aw cmon, that one’s not even out yet.

I’m mostly excited to play through 3 to finish Desmond’s story, 4 to be a pirate, Rogue because I’ve heard good things and Syndicate because it’s apparently an underrated title which is a really cool Victorian outing. By the way, I thought Rogue was to Unity what Freedom Cry is to Rogue; I had no idea it was a mainline title and I’ve always overlooked it for that. I also completely forgot that Freedom Cry exists, but lookie, they brought it over to PS4 and everything.

Ideally, before I begin on 3 and Liberation, which I got with the Odyssey Season Pass, I’d like to go through the Ezio Collection on PS4, just to refresh my memory on Desmond’s story and also because those games are rad as heck. Sadly it seems to never go on sale though, and it would feel like a waste of money at full price considering I own the originals on PC and PS3. That being said, if it dropped to like £15 before I finish Odyssey and begin on 3, then maybe I’ll bite. Maybe during the July Uplay event?

So, place your bets. Will I succeed in this absurd mission? Will I have a digital shelf of Platinum Assassin’s Creed trophies to grace this blog with before the year is out? HELL NO! Ruling that one out. But before the decade is out? Solid maybe. Although there will probably be at least six more games out by 2030. And I did also declare intent to Platinum every Ratchet and Clank game recently…

 

Founding a New Home – Inkwell Week 1, An Animal Crossing Diary

I was somewhat apprehensive as I stepped off the plane and onto the island – our new home – for the first time. I was used to life in Canvas, a town where I could walk to the shops to buy what I needed, buy new clothes or change my hairstyle on a whim. But as we stepped out onto the dock for the first time, I was struck with just how empty the land before us truly was. Overgrown with weeds, trees, and without a building or pathway in sight. Not even flowers!

Moreover, I was moving here with Canberra and Coach, two animals I’d never even met before. Thankfully, the Nooks had already established a basic plaza and resident services tent towards the centre of the island. They reassured us on the matters of our access to essentials – we would have some quality of life, after all – and had us pick out spaces for our tents that evening. I found a cosy spot nestled near the bank of a sort of river crossroads, whereas Canberra decided not to stray too far from the plaza, herself. Coach was stumped as to where to set his tent down, so I suggested the beach – as someone who’s into fitness, I figured he’d appreciate stepping out on the shore each morning to inspire him into his morning jog along the coastline. He heartily agreed!

Before I knew it, we’d settled down in front of the fire for a night of appleade, laughter, and stargazing. We were throwing out ideas on what to name the island long into the night, when I considered the name of my previous town of Canvas. I always liked that name as it gave the impression that the town was the canvas on which the tapestry of life would be painted. Similarly, then, Inkwell could be the pot of ink from which one might dip their pen into to write the story of their life. The others immediately took to the idea, and it became official. We celebrated for a while, but I soon grew weary and turned in for the night.

Or… so I thought. At 2am, Tom Nook – perhaps a little buzzed from one too many appleades – came by my tent to give me the full sum of my moving fees! The sly raccoon. Luckily, I’ve dealt with him before, so I wasn’t at all surprised. And besides, behind all the surface-level consumer-capitalism, there’s generosity in spades. One only has to look as far as the interest-free loan with no time limited repayment to see that. But enough – I’m starting to sound like one of his advertisements.

Things began moving rather quickly over the next few days, though perhaps that’s simply because I’m looking back – at the time, it felt like it was going at a snail’s pace! Despite originally envisioning an easy life with no responsibilities on a deserted island, I soon found myself falling into old habits, such as harvesting nearby fruit trees and selling sea shells for small sums of bells. Before long, my old friend Blathers visited, and almost immediately decided on staying and opening up a new museum, bigger and fancier than ever before. The Nooklings didn’t tarry either, setting up a new Nook’s Cranny beneath the cliff’s edge slightly north of the town plaza. And of course, we’d need to build a bridge to get there, and Daisy Mae – Joan’s granddaughter – now saw reason to visit for turnip sales, and then Sahara showed up… everything began to feel more familiar, but also more like home. I’d soon stopped thinking of Canvas as “back home” and started thinking of Inkwell in that way instead.

Speaking of Canvas, though, I had heard word that some of my old townsfolk had taken to visiting some deserted islands of their own, and I set out to some of the smaller ones in hope of coming across some of them, but no luck. I did, however, meet a very energetic yellow monkey by the name of Tammi. Behind her smile she seemed to be lamenting the nature of her current home, so I tentatively offered her a place back at Inkwell, to which she immediately accepted. She wasn’t the only one to move in this week, however; Tom Nook also had me building plots for Zucker the Octopus and Norma the Cow. Zucker is an… eccentric fellow, who has this odd fascination with bugs that I’ve not quite come to grips with yet. Norma is one of the sweetest animals I’ve ever met, and all three of the newer villages have immediately taken to decorating their homes with a delightful assortment of furniture.

Animals haven’t been Inkwell’s only visitors, however. I’ve been in touch with some friends, and have so far had the joy of hosting friends from Hoenn, Lazuli Bay, Stinkwhiff and Tarkinael. I’ve also visited their islands and met some of their villagers, including not one but two bulls who seem like cousins of my own Coach. We’ve traded fruit, so Inkwell now has a wide variety of delicacies on its horizon, as well as ample bell-making opportunities. Speaking of which, I’ve been hard at work ridding smaller islands of tarantulas for future visitors, which is hard work for honest pay, and have already swapped my humble tent for a fairly spacious house with three rooms! If my old friends back at Canvas knew I was in debt to Tom Nook once more, I’d never hear the end of it.

Resident services was closed for refurbishment today, but it’s due to open tomorrow and I’m so excited to see how it turns out. Tom Nook muttered something about requiring some help for the expanded services and gave me a knowing look, but I can’t think of who he might be hinting at. Well, I suppose I’ll find out soon enough. Tomorrow, as always on Inkwell, is another adventure.

My History With Animal Crossing

Sadly I no longer remember the first time I discovered Animal Crossing, but I can tell you that my first Animal Crossing game was City Folk on the Wii (oddly titled Let’s Go To The City here in the UK). I can also sadly no longer remember the name of my first town, but funnily enough I can remember the rough layout of my town, and the fact that it contained Bud the Lion, Tom the Cat, and Rocco the Hippo. Oh, and Queenie the Ostrich, because she follows me everywhere.

Animal Crossing: City Folk is entwined with some of the best memories I have of my Nintendo Wii, played primarily in the years of 2009-2011. The Wii was my second ever Nintendo console after the original DS, so I was really still exploring those IPs for the first time, and even though I was around 14 at the start of this era, they still managed to leave a lasting impression on me. I vaguely remember a sense of wonder and discovery when watching videos of Animal Crossing on Youtube, and I think I must have gotten it for my birthday not long after. There used to be an online forum called friendcodes.com (now sadly gone) where you could set up lounges to play games with other members, and instant messaging chat and friendcodes listed beneath names for ease of joining. I made many friends here who, after hours of playing Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros Brawl with, would usually unwind with by visiting their Animal Crossing town soon after. I have one specific memory of hanging out in Brewster’s cafe on a Saturday night til far later than I should have done.

One of my friendcodes friends was an older woman who played often and gifted me thousands of bells until I was filthy rich, and I remember feeling vaguely guilty when I eventually reset my town, as gifts from her alongside items from another friend who had hacked their game quickly resulted in me having no reason to play – at least, in the eyes of a teenager who saw house completion as the end of the game. This led me to become a bit of a serial resetter, a trait which sadly extended to later Wild World saves. I would fall into a habit of making a new town, playing for a week, coming back a few months later, seeing all the weeds and deciding to simply start all over again.

One of the reasons why I would so often fall off of playing City Folk was due to the Wii’s main gimmick – motion controls. I recall that our motion bar developed some issues, and we replaced it with a third party one which didn’t function as well as it should have. I longed for the ability to play the game in sideways controller mode, and would likely have spent far more hours in City Folk if this was the case. As it was, I’d heard that the preceding game, Wild World, was a DS game, and practically the same as the Wii title, bar the titular city’s inclusion. And so it was that in the Christmas of 2011, I moved into the snowy town of Taymar, and met the best villager in all of Animal Crossing:

Aurora the Penguin.

Usually when you talk to someone who is passionate about Animal Crossing, they’ll bring up the fact that they have a favourite villager. For those unfamiliar with the series, I should mention that villagers have many different personality styles, and they usually have different things to say every time you talk to them. They were characters you’d spend time with every day, and you’d grow attachments to them, and usually you’ll have a favourite; for me, it’s Aurora the Penguin. This wholesome little waddler was always so kind to me and never failed to bring a smile to my face. I think she may be the only villager I’ve ever naturally obtained their picture from, a sign that you’ve become a really good friend with them in the games.

As I mentioned earlier, however, my serial resetting eventually made its way to Wild World, and after not having played for a stint Aurora had moved out, and my town was overrun with weeds. I bid Taymar goodbye and moved to New Taymar (…I know), which also had Aurora in it! Clearly, this was where she had moved to. I was delighted, even if my old friend didn’t seem to remember me initially. The fact that she showed up in my second Wild World town really helps cement her place as Best Villager and I really hope she turns up in my New Horizons save next month. I’m over my resetting, Aurora, I promise. New Leaf has taught me the error of my ways.

When New Leaf came out for the 3DS, I bought a 3DS for it. Well, that and Pokémon X, but that’s another story. In 2013 I moved to the fledgling town of Canvas, and was mistakenly appointed as Mayor, a title which I have since kept, because people seem to like me in the role, even though Isabelle does all the work. I was greeted by, among others, Bud the Lion, from my first City Folk town! And I am overcome with a sense of guilt while writing this because I was certain that the lion in my City Folk town was named Leon, and have thus not recognised Bud until just now. I’ve had an OG villager for six years without realising! Although I also have Queenie, who I definitely do recognise because she follows me across every town. It’s a bit weird.

I was overjoyed to learn that the Beautiful Town Ordinance was a thing, because it meant that I could leave the game for years at a time and not have to worry about the town being infested with weeds upon my return. I’ve had some villagers move out, sadly, but Tom has since moved in! I suppose the more titles you play, the more likely you are to run into old friends, which is nice. Again, I’m excited to see what the future holds in store for me there. I would also love to be paired with one of the villagers from Chuggaaconroy’s Let’s Play series, such as Shari or Biskit, as it’s a series I’m very fond of.

So, yeah, if it isn’t already apparent, I’m extremely excited for Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I love that you only start out with two villagers this time as New Leaf’s five made it feel like you were moving into a pre-established community, whereas this way we’ll be able to get to know our villagers better over time as they move in. I plan on writing them letters, visiting them as often as possible, and hopefully writing some sort of diary series here on this blog about my island, although I’m yet to decide on how often, if at all. The last thing I want is to burn myself out by turning my island escape into a productive obligation. So… maybe irregular updates, as and when things occur? Stay tuned.

Either way, I’m hoping to meet Aurora and Goldie and Maple and Genji and many others during my time on Inkwell Island, but I also can’t wait to see what new animals I’ll meet along the way. March 20th can’t come soon enough!

Link’s Bad Day [The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild]

Having rescued a stray Goron youth at the end of an arduous day of blowing up tribes of lizalfos at the base of Death Mountain, Link was just about ready to plod off home for some fresh water (so thirsty) when his shrine alarm started beeping. Aw heck, he thought. I’ve just committed lizard genocide. What’s one quick shrine before I call it a day?

Oh, Link. You’re about to find out.

After fearlessly parachuting across an ocean of lava to reach the shrine’s modest island (seriously, dude, don’t be such an adrenaline junkie), Link stood proudly at the start of his latest challenge, chest puffed out, ready for action. This was the “blue flame” shrine, a room of puzzles dedicated to the problem of moving a blue flame from one sconce to the next amidst flowing water and impossible jumps. The guardians of old had generously provided Link with a single torch with which to carry the flame, and as he stopped to ponder what might happen should he have one of his occasional fits of madness where he throws his weapon into the wild blue yonder, he came to realise he would have to sacrifice one his previous weapons in order to hold the torch in the first place. Gently laying his Knight’s Sword down onto a metal platform, he vowed to return for it later, before heading off to complete the first hurdle of the trial.

Lighting the first sconce reset the positioning of the metal platforms, and Link turned just in time to see his trusty sword plummeting into the lava. Ah. Right. Bother. He’d have to be finding a new one of those. Well, at least he had a spare.

The next sconce appeared to be on a vertically moving platform many meters away, well beyond the reach of Link and his one torch. Aha! An easy one! Grinning wryly, Link reached for his handy bow and arrows- arrow. One arrow. One single normal arrow was all Link had left. Grimacing, he remembered his morning sniping at lizalfos with reckless abandon, not stopping to retrieve his arrows before moving on. Well, this vertically sliding platform sconce just got serious. Link squinted, took aim, and…

Aha! Bullseye! Link’s anxiety melted away from him as he charged up the stairs which had been helpfully lowered for him. He was invincible! Infallible! Indomitable! In-

Well, at least he was swiftly rewarded with a badass looking greatsword of flame! One that he’d… hang on… sorry, backup Knight’s Sword, looks like your turn is up. Just gonna… fling you into the lava myself. Right! Onwards, to the next puzzle. It looks like this one is solved by… firing your standard arrow through the blue flame to light up the two sconces ahead. Huh.

For those of you who aren’t aware, there are alternative arrow types in Breath of the Wild. For instance, Link is currently carrying with him some fire arrows, ice arrows, lightning arrows, bomb arrows, and even a rare type of arrow that is extremely powerful and probably not to be used on sconces. Thing is, none of these arrows will carry a blue flame. It has to be a regular arrow, the most common type of arrow, the type which Link acquires by the quiver, and currently has sweet sheiking none of.

Out of options, Link eyed up his only torch.

He eyed up the sconce.

He could hit the sconce from where he was standing, right? Then retrieve it, rinse and repeat.

Well. Time to die. Maybe when Link respawned he’d be given a new torch-

Link sat and meditated on what he had learned. Here he was, far underground, surrounded by lava in a trial built, supposedly, by some precursor race which were judging him based on his performance here. It is not a thought which sat well with his ego. Frowning, resistant to leave knowing the trial would reset when he did, he considered his options. He could… well, he had none. Grumbling, he brought his sheikah tablet up and teleported out. He’d go to the general store and load up on arrows-

My World of Warcraft Characters’ Lore: Volume 3

Moving on from the Night Elf Brothers and the Sisters of Light and Shadow, the following heroes of the Alliance are not related by blood, race, class, or even philosophy. They may have met over the years and formed friendships with one another, fought in separate groups on the same side of a battle, or never heard of one another at all. They share one thing in common: a desire to safeguard Azeroth and the citizens of the Alliance from the threats that seek to end them.

Also I created them, I guess.


Heroes of the Alliance

Grimslash, Worgen Fury Warrior

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Archibald Grimslash had spent his formative years watching his father become twisted by the hatreds which fuelled the Gilnean civil war. The gentle-natured father of his youth slowly began to fade away, replaced with a resentful and explosive man who opposed King Genn Greymane’s decision to isolate Gilneas from the Alliance. This opposition began as outrage, and escalated into militant extremism when others took up the cause. Although Archibald didn’t particularly disagree with his father’s cause, all he knew was that the man he had looked up to was gone, consumed by rage, and eventually he succumbed to a heart attack during a particularly violent argument he’d had with a prisoner. Shortly after this incident, Archibald visited his father’s prisoner – a man named Spencer Humphrey – and almost lost his own temper, blaming Spencer for his father’s death. Immediately noting the similarities between him and his father, however, Archibald managed to restrain himself, and vowed never to let rage drive him as it had his father. He later visited Spencer in an attempt to understand his way of thinking, and whilst the two of them disagreed on many political issues, they became unlikely friends.

When Gilneas fell under siege from the crazed worgen, Archibald’s first thought was of Spencer and the prisoners who were unable to escape from their manacles. Upon reaching his friend’s cell, Archibald found that he’d been attacked – and was already turning. Attempting to reason with the rabid prisoner failed, and for the first time, diplomacy was replaced with violence between them. Spencer broke free and struck Archibald hard across the chest, and he slammed into a wall, falling unconscious.

That was the last lucid moment Archibald would experience for a very long time.

Years later, Archibald felt himself struggling to wake, as if from a coma. As his vision swam into view, he found that he was crouched on the forest ground, blood pooling around his claws, a night elf twitching beneath him as the life left her body. Startled, he fell backwards, whimpering. He held his bloodstained paw in front of him, gaping in horror as the fur receded from it and it returned to the form of a human hand – albeit still stained with the blood of his victim.

The remaining night elves who had saved him told him that they had performed something called the Ritual of Balance on him, but he had broken from his restraints shortly before it could be completed, slaying one of his saviours moments before returning to his senses. They told him that he had been turned, along with many other Gilneans, during the fall of their homeland from an invasion of worgen, and that while most had been saved with this ritual, Archibald was one of the few that had evaded them in the years after. He had come to be known as a notorious feral beast of Duskwood, where he had eventually settled to roam and hunt. He had killed many in the region over the years.

The night elves told him that many Gilneans used their worgen abilities for the good of the Alliance, which they had re-joined, but Archibald was disgusted with himself. Vowing never to let his worgen form free again, he abandoned the night elves in the dead of night and headed north, with no real plans other than to try and outpace the unending rage that now flowed through his veins.

Eventually, Archibald entered the frigid dwarven land of Dun Morogh, and encountered a travelling band of pandaren monks who had arrived from across the sea to teach the dwarves and gnomes the way of the monk. Archibald told them his story, and whilst the pandaren had enjoyed little success in training worgen monks beforehand, they agreed to let Archibald join their sessions and try to soothe his raging spirit. Archibald trained with them for some weeks, but found himself feeling clumsy and isolated in lessons.

Eventually, a band of trolls that lived in the region launched a surprise attack on the band of monks, and seeing his tutor struck down before his eyes, Archibald Grimslash lost himself to rage. Before he could think twice he had transformed, and had snatched up a pair of axes from a fallen troll. Grimslash launched his attack; his was a dance of death as he used his enhanced lupine senses and strength to dart from troll and troll, dispatching them with ease. While the monks struck with pinpoint accuracy and careful agility, Grimslash merely cleaved through whatever troll stood before him. When the fight was over he stood victorious in the crimson snow, feeling more at one with himself than he had since Gilneas. The rage had not abated, but his bloodlust was sated. For now.

It became clear to him that he could never be the same person he was before the invasion of Gilneas. Never would he be able to keep his promise of keeping his temper; nor would he let his worgen self sit idly by while his killing edge could be used to save others. Looking at the carnage around him, he knew he should have felt horrified by what he had done, but  found that his view on the world had changed. Abandoning the ways of the monk, Grimslash thanked his remaining tutors and cleaned his axes, leaving to rejoin his people.

Writer’s comments: As World of Warcraft has progressed, Blizzard have given player characters of new races or hero classes more linear origin stories. Due to this, characters like Stalward, Virizard and Grimslash are difficult to come up with unique origins for. I’ve been mostly trying to add flair to their stories either before or after they underwent their respective changes, whilst respecting the game’s own lore for their origins.

Also, if the faction leader can be called ‘Genn Greymane’ despite not being a worgen for most of his life, I can definitely get away with ‘Archibald Grimslash’.

Adamant, Dwarf Retribution Paladin

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Adamant Stoutwhisker enjoyed a typical dwarven upbringing amongst a rowdy, tavern-going family. Many a long and raucous evening was spent drinking away in Kharanos in his adolescence, and when he grew older and yearned for independence, Adamant moved to Loch Modan and took up fishing in-between nights at the tavern. As time passed, many of Adamant’s friends grew troubled with world-shaking events such as the invasion of the Horde and the onslaught of the Scourge, and left to lend their aid to the Alliance. Adamant didn’t begrudge them this, but he preferred the peaceful life of fishing in the Loch and drinking with his friends, so he simply befriended whatever newcomers appeared, and continued as he was.

One night, a grizzled human veteran deigned to suggest that Adamant was too dismissive of the sacrifices made for his way of life, and the drunken dwarf was quick to anger, ending the evening in a bloody brawl with the man. Ashamed – and easily beaten – he tracked the human down the next day to apologise. The old warrior accepted his apology, but added that the Alliance always needed more heroes in an increasingly dangerous world. He extended a hand of friendship. Ashamed, Adamant skulked away.

The following months were a dark time for Adamant. His drinking became less an exercise of leisure and more of a compulsion, an attempt to drive away the nagging feeling that he was every bit the coward that the old man had accused of him. The dwarf found himself listening in on the news of the world – of how a young human Prince had fallen under the sway of the Scourge, how entire cities were falling to the plague of undeath – and the knot of unease in his stomach only grew. Yet still he remained at the Loch.

Eventually, news reached him that the grizzled veteran who Adamant had fought with many months ago had fallen in the fight against the Scourge. A service was to be held at the graveyard south of Andorhal, where Uther himself was buried. Adamant had heard of his friends dying in the line of duty before, but something about this human’s sacrifice affected something deep within him. Sobered, Adamant rose from his stool and abandoned his tankard. The next morning, he set off for the Plaguelands.

When Adamant reached the warrior’s grave to pay his respects, he was horrified by the state of the land around him. He’d heard the tales – heard reports in excruciating detail – but even as the other dwarves were moved into action, Adamant had remained content to drink with his friends, comforted by the notion that the Alliance existed to allow dwarves like him to live unaffected by the perils of the world.

The veteran was right, Adamant realised. He wasn’t just ambivalent. He was complacent, lethargic, and cowardly.

As Adamant rose to leave the grave, he was ambushed by a mindless undead that had ambled unnoticed into the area. With no time to think, Adamant reached for his mace – a family heirloom – and struck the creature down, his simple weapon gleaming with a golden, holy energy.

Astonished, Adamant surveyed his arms, and felt the same holy energy running through his veins, fortifying him and lending to him a vigour that purged the lethargy from his bones. His muscles brimmed with the anticipation of action, with a newfound might, and with the thirst for holy retribution.

The Light had chosen Adamant to be worthy of wielding its power upon sensing his newfound conviction to make amends. Wasting no time gawping, Adamant seized this opportunity and immediately headed north to Hearthglen, to pledge his allegiance to the Argent Crusade and seek tutoring in the ways of the paladin.

Writer’s notes: I’d like to mention that the veteran’s judgement of Adamant as a coward for living a regular life isn’t supposed to apply to situations outside of Warcraft. In Azeroth at this point in time, the entire world was in peril on a regular basis, and it stands to reason that a more militaristic way of thinking would be a popular mindset in this social context, especially among the valorous humans and dwarves towards young and able-bodied people of their race opting to live a peaceful life among the dire conflicts. This mightn’t even be the ruling mindset – simply an interaction between an ageing veteran who has seen his friends die in the field to a worthy cause, and a drunken dwarf who lives in open ingratitude towards the sacrifices of said friends.

On a lighter note, Adamant is the only character I’ve ever paid to change the name of. He spent his first hundred levels as… Smotencore. Ech.

Khallus, Human Assassination Rogue

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After retaking Stormwind during the Second War, King Varian Wrynn employed the Stonemason’s Guild to rebuild the sacked city. When the nobles of Stormwind refused to pay the workers for their labour, the Stonemasons rioted, and after Queen Tiffin was killed during the chaos they retreated to the outskirts of the kingdom, forming the Defias Brotherhood. Khallus was raised within the Brotherhood to believe that the kingdom of Stormwind was a tyrannous empire, and that the Alliance was a malignant and corrupt organisation. He was trained in the ways of assassination by his mother and father, poised to become a sharply honed weapon of the Brotherhood that would infiltrate the city and execute the nobility. Eventually, he grew into adulthood and completed his training, and was sent on his first mission – to execute a heinously corrupt lord currently lodging in the Trade District.

While skulking in the shadows and waiting for the right moment to strike, Khallus was privy to the discussions of lords and ladies, and though he was only in his target’s chambers for a few hours, he learned enough to know that the nobles of Stormwind were not as malicious as he was led to believe. A few conversations weren’t enough to undo years of indoctrination, but they were enough to give him pause, to withdraw and do his own research. Over the following weeks, Khallus discovered that Lady Katrina Prestor – the black dragon Onyxia in disguise – had influenced Stormwind’s nobles into refusing to pay the Stonemasons. It turned out that the lords and ladies weren’t to blame for the tragedy that formed the Defias Brotherhood.

Not entirely.

Returning home to Westfall, Khallus informed his parents of Onyxia’s now-forgotten plot to forge the Brotherhood as a weapon to destabilise the Alliance. To Khallus’ surprise, his parents already knew. Worse still, they didn’t care. They pointed to the ongoing famine in Westfall as one of many signs of Stormwind’s neglect. Khallus didn’t disagree, but he told them that surely it was in their best interests to stop hindering the Alliance so that they might get a better foothold in the region, that perhaps they could then help. But his argument fell on deaf ears. He was being idealistic. He was being ungrateful. If his parents hadn’t scooped him up during the riots, he’d be nothing more than a street urchin, begging for coppers in the streets of Old Town.

Khallus was stunned. He hadn’t known he was adopted – nay, stolen. After weeks of soul searching, he eventually made up his mind and escaped from the Brotherhood in the dead of night. But he would not go to Stormwind; his lack of faith in the Brotherhood did not absolve the human kingdom of its own crimes. Instead, he became a nomad, eavesdropping on rumours of local troubles and using his abilities to assassinate the cause of the issue, efficiently and ruthlessly. He worked not for the Alliance as a whole, but for the individuals who were being affected or sent to fight whatever evil was marked for death. His was a life of isolation, extermination, and a bloody quest for redemption.

Writer’s notes: Khallus is the character I made to level through the game without dungeons or heirlooms, to read the quest text and take note of the story. In light of this, his story is one that fits that of the player character questing through zones, eliminating threats and helping individual peoples in need.

Elismyr, Gnome Windwalker Monk

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Elismyr never found that she never possessed the mirth and bombasity that her race became known for. She was adopted into a family that paid little attention to her, and her shy nature removed her from many possible social groups. As she grew into adulthood she felt as if she were an outcast, and was preparing to leave Gnomeregan and trek for places unknown when an engineer named Fizzik noticed her dour, broken expression. Fizzik summoned up the courage to approach her and ask her why she was heading out of Gnomeregan at this time of night with what appeared to be all her worldly possessions. Having nurtured a growing resentment of her people and their extroverted ways, Elismyr responded harshly, and strode past him out into the frosty wilderness of Dun Morogh.

Fizzik was no lone spirit and was somewhat affronted by Elismyr’s hostility, and so didn’t immediately go after her. But as he continued to work on his mechanostrider by the entrance to Gnomeregan, unease began to settle in his mind, and he imaged the young gnome being assaulted by troggs, or wild boars, or frostmane trolls. Grumbling to himself, he mounted his mechanostrider – he’d only been making some minor modifications – and set out to find her. Not many gnomes left Gnomeregan, let alone at the dead of night. It was a big world for a small people such as they.

Fizzik followed her footsteps through the snow, and eventually found her struggling on through a growing snowstorm. She whirled as she heard his approach, and scowled at him with recognition. And yet, despite her extensive planning she had left with little experience of the outside world, and found that even through her furs, the snow contained an icy bite. Plus, the shadow of a large bear loomed through the fog. Elismyr decided that she’d return to Gnomeregan with the nosy engineer, just for the night. She’d leave in the morning.

But she never did. Despite rocky first impressions, Elismyr and Fizzik grew to be close friends, and eventually fell in love. Fizzik grew to appreciate Elismyr’s quiet persona, a rare trait indeed for a gnome. And in turn, Elismyr learned through Fizzik that despite the cheerfulness and outgoing nature of many gnomes, these traits often belied a more sincere understanding of the world, and an innate desire to invent new and wondrous technologies for the benefit of all. Elismyr no longer resented other gnomes. After a decade together, the two gnomes married in a well-attended ceremony.

They would enjoy their married life for a scant few years before tragedy struck. An ancient menace besieged Gnomeregan during the time of the Third War, and Fizzik and Elismyr decided to retreat to the young settlement of New Tinkertown while the warriors attempted to save Gnomeregan. Fizzik insisted that Elismyr go on ahead with some of his friends, as he believed that one of his devices may prove useful to the defenders. He promised he would join her in New Tinkertown the next day. Reluctantly, she let him go.

Fizzik never returned.

Elismyr was devastated with grief. She felt wronged and abandoned, though she knew Fizzik was not to blame. She felt isolated and bothered by those around her all at once, and began to regress into her former misanthropic ways. These tumultuous feelings did not heal with time, and Elismyr grew to be a bitter, solitary gnome on the edge of New Tinkertown, sometimes going weeks without talking to another soul.

Eventually, talk of a new race of people called the Pandaren came to Elismyr’s attention. The news was old, of course; Elismyr rarely engaged in idle gossip. These Pandaren lived by the way of the monk, an ideology as much as a way of fighting. They believed in a harmony of the soul, the importance of being at peace with oneself. A band of them had recently arrived in Dun Morogh, and were accepting trainees. A few years ago, when her grief was still raw, Elismyr wouldn’t have bothered. But after many years of struggling with her own mind, the idea grabbed hold of her. Without a word to anyone, Elismyr gathered up her meagre possessions and left. She would never turn back.

Writer’s notes: Elismyr is part of the reason why I took so damn long to write this third Volume. I am, historically, a hater of gnomes. They are small and crude and irritating. But monks are not any of these things, bar small, if you so choose. And so I created Elismyr, a gnome in race only. I wanted her to be more of an introvert, an outsider, as I feel any gnome who wishes to pursue the ways of the monk would be. Also, I thought it would be hilarious to kill giant Pit Lords as a tiny, zen-fuelled gnome with some powerful palms.

Coming next: Champions of the Horde, Allied Races and short stories from the perspectives of some of my characters, during the most important moments of their lives. My Druid Kritigri may have something to say about the Burning of Teldrassil.

 

My World of Warcraft Characters’ Lore: Volume 2

Firstly, thank you everyone for the wonderful feedback on Volume 1! Such positive comments! Feedback of any kind is what motivates me to write more, so without further ado, here is Volume 2. And I promise, I’m all out of Night Elves.


Sisters of Light and Shadow

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In the verdant plains of Nagrand in a village named Telaar, two young draenei sisters played among the fields. The eldest was named Aeonaar, and she was often seen scurrying after her mischievous younger sister, Dionaar. They were too young to know of Argus or of the army of demons hunting their people, but they would learn soon enough.

The sisters were often schooled on the ways of the Light in Telaar, and soon enough the sisters had grown from children into studious young women. Dionaar grew out of her mischievous ways, and despite being the younger of the two sisters, she became the more promising pupil of the Light. She was awestruck by the benevolence and healing properties of the Light, and whilst Aeonaar was no novice, it was Dionaar who advanced through their class in leaps and strides whilst her elder sister struggled to keep up.

As the sisters grew, so too did orcish aggression against their people. The orcs had been corrupted by the Legion in one of their many attempts to break into Azeroth, and as a side effect, the draenei were being hunted in alarmingly high numbers. The sisters quickly found themselves becoming wartime medics, using the Light to heal their injured friends as they stood their ground against the orcs. During these times, Aeonaar found herself motivated by her younger sister’s talent and sheer determination to right the wrongs of the world.

Eventually, an orc by the name of Ner’Zhul would bring catacylsmic destruction to Draenor after ripping the fabric of the world apart too often with his portals. The world buckled, and parts of Nagrand exploded into the sky as the apocalypse wrought its toll on the ancient land. The draenei sisters held each other close as they waited for the end, but after many days and nights, the rumbling stopped. Cautiously, they emerged from their broken village to find that the world as they knew it was gone. The sky had been replaced with the chaotic energies of the Twisting Nether; the seas had fallen away into the abyss; the mountains remained stationary in the air, defying gravity. Draenor was dead. This new land would come to be known as Outland.

Aeonaar despaired, but Dionaar told her that it was a miracle of the Light that life still persisted on this broken shelf. Talbuk still roamed, and Elekk still thundered through the grassy plains. Nevertheless, what remained of Telaar was not safe. Dionaar had received a vision urging them to journey to a region that would come to be known as Zangarmarsh, where Prophet Velen was amassing their people. The sisters rallied as many of the surviving villagers as they could, and began the long journey. They would join with his band and journey with him for many years thereafter. During this time they would make the journey to Shattrath city, and discover the naaru that awaited them there, a being of pure Light which had come to them from the cosmos. Aeonaar was enamoured with the benevolence of this being, and she felt her connection to the Light grow stronger after spending time in its presence. As for Dionaar, she had met a handsome draenei leatherworker named Dalren in Shattrath, and despite her best interests to refrain from becoming distracted from her holy mission, fell completely in love with him.

Eventually, a plan was formed to venture to the Netherstorm and take control of an interdimensional craft named the Exodar, so that they might journey to Azeroth. Aeonaar, Dionaar and Dalren all volunteered to join the expedition, and they reached the Exodar with little opposition. As they assaulted Tempest Keep in order to seize control of the Exodar, however, they met resistence from the blood elves, and a stray arrow struck Dalren in the throat, and felled him.

Aeonaar had never heard her sister scream in such a way. Not even during the destruction of Draenor.

As they boarded the Exodar, the sisters dragged Dalren with them, begging the Light to heal his wounds, to undo the hole in his throat and restore his ability to breathe. As benevolent as the Light was, however, there were limits to its powers, and Dalren had already passed beyond the mortal veil. Aeonaar knew that their attempts were hopeless, but would not give up, for the sake of her sister. Eventually, however, it appeared that there were blood elves on board the Exodar, and that they had sabotaged the ship; Aeonaar’s attention was demanded elsewhere. Dionaar refused to leave Dalren’s side, even as the Exodar shuddered and began hurtling out of control towards Azeroth through the Twisting Nether. Before they crashed, Dionaar’s eyes found the stars, and she found herself fixating on the darkness between them.

When at last they crashed on Azuremyst Isle and began making an account of the survivors, Dionaar was nowhere to be found.

Aeonaar, Lightforged Draenei Holy Priest

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Aeonaar was deeply disturbed by the disappearance of her sister. She wished to search the island, and indeed search parties were sent out to look for her and others. But her expertise with the Light was needed here, to save as many of the injured as she could. It was agonising for her to refrain from joining the search for Dionaar, but she believed in the sanctity of life above all else. She couldn’t allow those around her to perish due to her own selfish needs.

She would never find her sister in those coming months and years. Her grief ran deep, but she never felt that she had erred in her decision to serve the holy Light and heal as many survivors as she could that day. Instead, she dedicated herself to the needs of her people and the peoples of the Alliance, who had provided her people with aid when they needed it most. Over the next decade she followed armies back into Outland to slay the traitor Illidan; she journeyed with them to Northrend to end the threat of the Lich King; she travelled the world as a healer after an all-too familiar cataclysm wrought tragedy across the world; she healed the casualties of the Alliance and, secretly, the Horde during their conflicts in Pandaria. She kept herself busy, all the while keeping an ear to the ground regarding the whereabouts of her sister. After the siege of Orgrimmar, Aeonaar decided to take some time and scour the globe in search of her sister, in an attempt to put her mind at ease once and for all.

She found nothing. If Dionaar was out there, she did not wish to be found.

Aeonaar might have had time to despair, had her people’s hunters not chosen that moment to finally break into Azeroth and launch an all-out invasion. She found herself called back into the line of duty, and as events unfolded she was given the opportunity to march upon Argus, her ancestral homeland, to bring an end to the Legion once and for all.

Many draenei, upon setting hoof on Argus for the first time in their lives or in millennia, found themselves overcome with sorrow. What had once been a jewel of a civilisation had crumbled to ash, to fel rock and hatred. Instead, Aeonaar found hope. The very fact that they were able to land here and take the fight to the Legion was a testament to the determination of the mortal races and their desire to bring peace to the world. Furthermore, they met with the Army of the Light, largely composed of a sect of Lightforged Draenei who were even more attuned to the Light than she and her fellow priests were. And it was with the power of this Light that they were able to fight and to keep their allies fighting, until they finally assaulted the Burning Throne and removed the Legion’s threat once and for all.

After the celebrations, Aeonaar received a summons from High Exarch Turalyon of the Army of the Light. He was looking for new recruits, strong in the ways of the Light, to join his golden army. He explained that the Legion was not the only threat to Azeroth, or to the other worlds of the Great Dark Beyond. The greatest threat was that of the Void, a direct antithesis to the Light that would devour everything in its path until darkness enveloped reality. To fight it, he would need all the help he could get.

During the trial to become Lightforged, a draenei was confronted with their darkest, most personal fears and regrets. In Aeonaar’s trial, Dionaar appeared, blaming her for the death of Dalren and scorning her for not searching the island for her sister before it was too late. Aeonaar nearly withered before her sister’s accusations… but eventually, her rational side won out. She reaffirmed her faith in the Light and its cause, and emerged from her trial changed. Her attunement to the Light was stronger than ever before. She had become Lightforged.

Dionaar, Draenei Shadow Priest

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When the Exodar crashed, Dionaar came to her senses before many others. As she got up, she heard a moaning coming from the far side of the room. Stumbling towards the murmuring, she found a dying engineer. Shaking off her dizziness, Dionaar knelt and did what came naturally to her: she called upon the holy Light to help her heal this injured soul.

The Light did not answer her.

Dalren’s dying face flashed in her mind, and she froze. She’d been unable to save him. Did that mean that the Light had now forsaken her? But that was cruel. She had tried her best. It wasn’t her fault.

Shaken, Dionaar tried once more to heal the dying draenei, pleading the Light to help her, begging it to. But it refused to answer her call. The Light was content to let this innocent person die because it no longer believed in her as a worthy conduit.

Years of learning from the Light, of putting faith in it and revelling in its benevolence, died then and there. Dionaar would never wield the Light again. She stormed from the Exodar and did not return.

What she did not know, would never know, was that the Light knew her faith had been shaken when her lover had died in her arms. It had denied her call in order to test her, to see if she would do anything to help the dying draenei on her own. When she did not, the Light decided she was lost, and roused another nearby priest so that they may help instead.

Dionaar fled to the edge of Azuremyst Isle and found an abandoned rowboat which she used to reach Darkshore. Knowing nothing of Azeroth, Dionaar was frightened to be alone in this alien land, but knew that she couldn’t face her sister or her people again, not after the Light had forsaken her. She forged a crude dagger and hunted herself a rabbit for food. She slept beneath the stars that night, plagued by memories of Dalren dying in her arms, waking up intermittently. Once, she awoke to the clear sky and found herself gazing into the void between stars, finding beauty for the first time in the darkness. She remembered the energies of the Twisting Nether in the skies back home, how they’d frightened her. It seemed foolish now. There was a beauty in that chaos. She’d simply been too afraid of a life without the Light to dare think it.

The next morning, she awoke to an ambush. Two figures, tall and with long ears and pale blue skin, assaulted her with blasts of holy Light. Alarmed, Dionaar swept up her hunting dagger, dodged the blasts of Light and threw it in desperation. It found the throat of one of the creatures. The other wailed, and fled into the early morning mists.

Dionaar had been assaulted by a pair of night elf priests who knew nothing of the draenei as a race, but had fought the demonic eredar in the third war, the draenei of Argus that had become demons. Dionaar knew nothing of this. She just knew that she’d been assaulted by a pair of native creatures wielding the holy Light against her. For the first time, it crossed her mind that the Light may not be entirely benevolent after all, if it was sending people to assassinate her. Flinching at the sight of the dagger in the night elf’s throat – her first kill – she retrieved her makeshift weapon and dried it off, before turning and heading south.

Eventually, Dionaar came across a roaming band of people of many races. They wore purple robes and introduced themselves as the Twilight’s Hammer, a group of people who wanted to make the world a better place using forbidden magics. A week ago, Dionaar would have turned her nose up at them, but since crash landing on Azeroth, her view of the Light had been changed somewhat. The prospect of wielding forbidden powers – perhaps more powerful than the Light – to do good was a path that seemed fitting for her. After some reluctance and much thought, she agreed to be tutored in the ways of shadow magic.

Over the next few years, Dionaar would slowly be converted into a willing participant of the Twilight’s Hammer cult. After years of a subtle warping of her mind, she grew to believe that the Hour of Twilight would indeed be a desirable outcome. No more life, no more love, no more grief. The Twilight’s Hammer took hold of her grief and expanded it, exaggerated it, turning Dalren from a lover into her sole reason to be, something the Light had wrenched from her. She would have continued down this dark path had she not run into her sister.

Aeonaar was in Loch Modan, seeing to the wounds of some warriors who had just clashed with Twilight’s Hammer cultists. Dionaar’s orders were to destroy this retreating band of fighters, and at this point, she had no objection – after all, before long all life was going to be eradicated. She didn’t know her sister was amongst them. But as she crested the ridge, she saw Aeonaar gazing down at the soldier she was healing. A look of intense care was on her face, a benevolence shattered when she looked up in alarm. Surveying the fighters, Aeonaar stared right at Dionaar.

Due to Dionaar’s Twilight robes and concealing hood, her sister didn’t even recognise her.

In that moment it was like a spell had broken in Dionaar’s mind. In a literal sense, the Twilight’s Hammer had been magically altering her perceptions and her way of thinking, and this had now been undone by the surge of love Dionaar felt for her sister. In another sense, Dionaar herself now realised that she’d been a fool. She immediately turned on her band and asphyxiated them with shadow magic. Taken unawares, they couldn’t do anything but struggle feebly as they suffocated.

When Dionaar had dealt with the cultists, she turned to her sister, only to find that she had fled. Dionaar didn’t think it wise to follow.

Over the next few years, Dionaar would travel alone and help the Alliance from the shadows, saving lives with her forbidden magic in a much less direct way than she used to, when she could wield the Light. Perhaps she could never make amends for what she’d done, but she could at least bring some good into the world before she would inevitably be captured and executed for her past crimes. She felt like this was a fate she deserved, and resolved not to fight against her captors were it to ever happen.

When events on Argus reached their peak and Alleria Windrunner embraced void magic, however, those who used forbidden magics came to be seen as antiheroes more than criminals. After some consideration, a lonely Dionaar gingerly crept into the capital of Stormwind and sought out the new void elves of the Alliance. With them, she found a place in which she could control her powers and be accepted for who she truly was. It was the first time she’d felt at peace with herself since leaving Outland.

Author’s notes: The story of Aeonaar and Dionaar is a little more fleshed out and extensive than most of my other characters, so I felt the need to do something a little different for their story. This is why their story begins not as a focus on one character or the other, but as their journey as sisters.

Coming next: Various heroes of the Alliance

My World of Warcraft Characters’ Lore: Volume 1

Firstly, I’d like to apologise for the lack of blog posts from me lately! I’ve been concentrating my creative energies elsewhere. I can’t promise that this is going to change anytime soon, but in the meantime I do have quite a hefty creative post for you part one of many, and whether you enjoy World of Warcraft or not, I’m hoping it’ll be interesting to you.

I don’t RP much in World of Warcraft (although I’d like to), but I do like to give my characters a bit of backstory to motivate them through the game’s questing. All of this stuff is typically in my head though, except for a couple of times where I’ve tried to write short stories from their perspective. Turns out, writing inside someone else’s world is more difficult than creating your own. Anyway, without further ado:


The Night Elf Brothers

Kritigri, Night Elf Balance Druid

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Born shortly before the War of the Ancients, Kritigri had the unfortunate experience of watching the horrors of the war unfold during his adolescent years, ending with the Sundering of the world. Experiencing such devastation was not easy on Kritigri, and he spent many years after meditating in the wilds to try to come to terms with the amount of death and destruction that had torn apart his homeland. During the war, his younger brother Virizard had been captured by demons, and dragged back through one of their portals, never to be seen again – this had also taken its toll on Kritigri’s mental wellbeing. But after many years communing with nature and observing the regrowth of the wilds, Kritigri became inspired by the resilience of nature and pledged himself to the path of druidism. He sought out a mentor and spent many years learning to become a druid, and then worked with them for centuries in the Emerald Dream.

Shortly after the fall of the Lich King, the Emerald Nightmare grew alarmingly in strength, trapping the druids within it until they were freed by Tyrande. Kritigri awoke to a changed Azeroth. The Night Elves had formed a new civilisation named Darnassus in the boughs of a new world tree, Teldrassil, and had entered into an Alliance with a collection of younger races. Kritigri knew some of this from what his druidic peers had told him as they had entered and left the Emerald Dream, but this was the first time he had personally emerged from the dream in centuries. Oftentimes, he found it easier to work in the dream than to walk the imperfect waking world, but he could afford to dream no longer. A cataclysm was coming, one that would shatter the world anew and remind Kritigri afresh of the horrors he’d witnessed during his youth. During this troublesome time, he would vow to himself to never turn his back on the troubles of Azeroth again – as he had during the third war – and would, in time, become a venerated hero of the Alliance.

Writer’s notes: Kritigri is my main character in World of Warcraft, and therefore I’ve always considered his story to match that of the general player character quite closely. He’d save Mount Hyjal, stop Deathwing, fight the Horde on the beaches of Pandaria, etc. But writing this backstory up gave me an opportunity to give him a more unique personality to carry through those Blizzard-crafted storylines.

Tolidar, Night Elf Arcane Mage

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A mere child during the Sundering of the world, Tolidar’s early life saw much upheaval. His family were grieving over the loss of his older brother, Virizard, and his eldest brother Kritigri was growing more aloof by the day, wandering the forests of the newly broken world whenever he had the opportunity. Kritigri’s love for nature soured Tolidar’s own opinion of the wild lands, and almost spitefully he opted to remain indoors, spending most of his reclusive adolescent-hood in the family library. It was here that he discovered books relating the arcane magics and how to wield them, and before long he was experimenting with them, conjuring food for mealtimes, and generally showing off to his brothers.

It was around this time that Malfurion Stormrage outlawed the use of arcane magic.

A furious argument broke out between Tolidar and Kritigri. Tolidar argued that his use of the arcane was harmless, and that Kritigri’s amateur druidic powers were no different to his arcane ones. Kritigri tried to convince Tolidar to stop his errant ways, now punishable by death, as it was that kind of thinking that had drawn the Legion to Azeroth. In Tolidar’s eyes, however, Kritigri had become too much of a druid to see what this new law was doing to his younger brother – that it was taking away the only thing that gave him reason to be – and the argument ended with Tolidar storming from the household and going to live in recluse, where he would practice his arcane arts in private. He briefly considered joining the Highborne in Eldre’Thalas, but the betrayal of Queen Azshara was too abhorrent in his mind to be associated with even this other sect of Highborne. He had not forgotten the Legion’s assault of Azeroth, or the kidnapping of his brother.

Thousands of years later, Tolidar’s life changed wildly once again. The Cataclysm had erupted into Azeroth, and Malfurion had awoken from the Emerald Dream – along with Tolidar’s eldest brother, no less – and declared that the Highborne mages deserved another chance. For a time, Tolidar rebelled against this notion, but thousands of years in recluse had made him quite lonely, and after ages of trying to hide what he truly was, the prospect of being a part of something was too good to resist. Gingerly, Tolidar approached the mages and asked if he could join them in their sorcerous ways, but after a swift examination they declared that his magic was nowhere near refined enough, and that to temper his magic he must make better use of it. Years of stifling his arcane abilities had rendered them weak and rough, and should he wish to join them, he should help the Alliance in ridding the world of the cataclysmic threats and prove to them that the Highborne deserved this second chance, all the while honing his arcane talents. Reluctantly, he agreed. Over the coming years, he would find that he had a place among the races of the Alliance more than he ever had within his own people. Rather than returning to the Highborne, Tolidar opted to take up residence in Dalaran.

Writer’s notes: Tolidar required a bit more explanation as he’s a Night Elf Mage, but not a Highborne. Originally, he had no characteristics at all, and was simply a character I’d made to use my Warlords of Draenor pre-order boost on. But after making a Night Elf Mage named Tolidar on an RP realm who was struggling to enter an academy of magic, I realised that a similar story could be applied to my regular mage. This is my first time reconciling that RP character’s story with my boosted mage’s.

Jerrek, Night Elf Beastmaster Hunter

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The youngest child of four and born after the War of the Ancients, Jerrek did not suffer as his older siblings did. He did not witness the Sundering of the world and did not meet Virizard, the second eldest of his siblings who was abducted by the Burning Legion. Growing up in the aftermath of events he had never witnessed, he often felt like he didn’t have a part to play in shaping the world, like he didn’t fit in. As a result he was a quiet child, and while Kritigri was meditative and Tolidar was reclusive, both were at least talkatative when they were together, or argumentative later on. Jerrek simply observed.

One day, after a particularly explosive argument between Kritigri and Tolidar regarding the use of arcane magics, Tolidar stormed out of the house, claiming that he would never return. After some time, Kritigri left to meditate in the wilds, and Jerrek spoke up, asking if he could tag along. Seeing the opportunity to share his love for the wilds with his brother, Kritigri accepted. But while Kritigri rambled on and on about the types of plants and their roles within the ecosystem, Jerrek’s mind kept wandering. He enjoyed the atmosphere of the wilds, but didn’t find himself feeling any particular affinity with the flora around him. They were just… plants. What he did pay attention to, however, were the beasts that stalked the wilds around them. Jerrek had always had a way with animals, perhaps due to his quiet nature. Eventually, he began making his own expeditions into the wilds, where he would befriend the wildlife he found there.

Eventually Kritigri departed to learn the ways of druidism, and Tolidar didn’t seem to be returning either. Feeling isolated and a little abandoned, Jerrek turned to the Night Elven military to try and fill the gap his family had left in his life, hoping that as part of an army he might rise through the ranks and eventually make his mark on the world. Jerrek proved to have an innate talent for the bow, perhaps honed from his days hunting down food after Tolidar had departed. He also brought his prize falcon Wyllum with him to track and blind enemies in the field. Over the years, he would befriend many more animal companions that he could call upon in the field of battle.

Writer’s notes: Jerrek’s name in-game is actually Kritimal, a play on my username to include the word ‘animal’. This, of course, would not make sense in the lore, so I had to invent a new name for him. I believe Jerrek fits the bill. He is also my original PvP focused character, so I decided to include a military background for him.

Virizard, Night Elf Havoc Demon Hunter

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During the War of the Ancients, Virizard and his brothers came across a village that was beset by demons. Kritigri and Tolidar wanted to flee, run to the nearest band of Kaldorei troops and tell them that the villagers were being attacked. Virizard stood frozen, watching a young Night Elf child being eaten by a Felstalker while she was still alive. Her arms clawed feebly at the ground. No Night Elf regiment would be fast enough to save her, or her sister, who was frozen in horror some steps away.

Virizard told his brothers to run and get help, before turning to dash towards the village. He had no weapons or combat training. He didn’t know what he was going to do. He just had to try and help in any way that he could. On his way to save the frightened girl, however, a looming Felguard appeared, grinning down at him. It struck him over the back of the head, rendering him unconscious, before dragging him back to one of the Legion’s many conquered worlds through a dark green portal. It was the last his brothers ever saw of him.

Unfortunately, his story did not end there.

Virizard awoke in a cage barely large enough to contain him. When his eyes regained their focus and he cast his eyes around him, he initially feared that the fel-scarred world he was looking at was Azeroth. His fears were assuaged – and then replaced with larger ones – when he looked to the sky, only to see the Twisting Nether’s raging energies in place of Azeroth’s skies. The Legion had captured him, and many other elves, in order to fuel their soul machines. An eyeless Inquisitor gleefully informed them that they were being held on reserve until they were needed.

After some time, the attitude of the demons changed. They had lost the War of the Ancients, and failed to break through to Azeroth. They turned their rage on the prisoners, killing many, and torturing others. Virizard himself was tortured for many miserable years. Eventually his mind broke, and he became a gibbering mess along with many of the other Kaldorei prisoners. Finding no fun in torturing mindless husks, the demons turned their attentions elsewhere.

When a raid led by the Army of the Light appeared and emancipated Virizard and the other prisoners from their chains, Virizard’s broken mind believed it to be a trick. He fought against the Lightforged Draenei, who appeared to be a new breed of Eredar demon trying to abduct him. The Draenei subdued most of the prisoners, but Virizard managed to evade them, fleeing into the demonic wastes. He soon found a series of demon portals through which he hopped, from world to world, slowly regathering his senses until he regained his a portion of his sanity. How he evaded demonic discovery or capture during that time must be put down to pure chance.

There was no telling how much time had passed since he had been captured, nor how many years he spent hopping between worlds. When Virizard eventually realised what he’d done in fleeing the Army of the Light, he almost lost himself to madness once more. Instead, he turned to his dread into rage, and vowed to hunt the demons to extermination. Just how he’d do this remained to be seen. For now, he continued travelling between broken worlds, forging weapons out of whatever materials he could find, occasionally slaying some lesser demons or disrupting their forces.

Eventually, Virizard happened across a portal leading to Outland, and immediately he stopped. Throughout the years, he’d travelled across many scorched, dead lands. This one still had some life left in it, despite the fact that it existed in the Twisting Nether. For the first time in what may have been centuries, Virizard was able to feed himself on the meat of a living creature, as opposed to whatever fungal or lichen growth he could find left clinging to a fel-scarred rock. Furthermore, this realm harboured civilisations of people who weren’t demons. This was incredible.

Eventually, Virizard heard word of Illidan Stormrage, and his army of Demon Hunters at the Black Temple. Enamoured by the prospect of seeing his own people again – of seeing people who hunted demons with the same vengeance as he – Virizard made his way to Shadowmoon Valley, confronting the army and demanding to be given a chance of joining. The Demon Hunters accepted his request, but with a warning – each of them had a demon inside of them, and the process killed more than it transformed. Virizard wasn’t phased. He’d seen more than his fair share of torment in his life. This would be no worse.

He was wrong.

When at last he emerged from his agonising transformation, he accepted his warglaives with pride. Never again would he be helpless against the Legion’s cruelties. It mattered not to him that he would never lead a normal life on Azeroth again. After millennia of torture, he’d even forgotten his coward brothers’ names…

Writer’s note: Out of all my characters, this might be the one that feels the most like edgy fanfiction. But I feel like that’s all in the spirit of what a Demon Hunter is. Edgy felves coming to angst you up.

Stalward, Night Elf Frost Death Knight

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The druid Kritigri didn’t come out of the Emerald Dream until the encroachment of the Nightmare forced him to. These are the way events took place in our timeline. But in another, he was convinced to exit the dream to defend Mount Hyjal against Archimonde’s attacks, and from then onwards he remained outside the dream. Some years after defeating Archimonde and joining with the Alliance, Kritigri joined a Stormwind expedition into Northrend to end the Lich King’s necromantic horrors forever. Kritigri saw undeath as a plague upon nature, and stood side by side with other champions as they invaded Northrend.

Kritigri died on the shores of Borean Tundra.

Some time later, Kritigri felt himself stirring. Ice coursed through his veins, and he awoke in the belly of Acherus, one of the Lich King’s floating necropolis fortresses. The Lich King’s voice echoed in his mind, telling him to make himself useful, to grab a weapon and join the other Death Knights in an assault on the Scarlet Enclave. Eager to obey, Kritigri tested his attunement to nature, and found that he was no longer able to call upon the wilds as he once had. Some deep part of him stirred in unease, but he shrugged it off and instead picked up a pair of swords. These would work just as well.

Kritigri descended upon the Scarlet Enclave, slaughtering villagers and delivering the Lich King’s will to the fools who tried to wield the light against him. He rode alongside Darion Mograine as they assaulted Light’s Hope Chapel, and fought against the light-crazed forces inside. He slew…. he slew…

The Lich King’s will abandoned him and all at once, he felt stained by the blood on his hands.

Mograine declared that they would stand against the Lich King as Knights of the Ebon Blade, and Kritigri knew that this was the only way he could possibly begin to make amends for what he had done. But still, the call of nature eluded him. Still, he wielded his swords with a deathly, necromantic power. These were the powers with which he had to fight, and now when he touched a leaf, it withered before his eyes.

So be it. He was Kritigri no longer. Kritigri had died on the shores of Borean Tundra. He was a new entity, forever changed by his raising into undeath. Kritigri took on the name Stalward, and made sure to always wear heavy armour in public so as to never be recognised by his brothers. They would surely be devastated were they to ever learn what had become of him.

Writer’s note: I was originally going to try and find a way to bring Stalward into the main timeline using the Infinite Dragonflight or the Bronze Dragonflight or something, but found that I couldn’t do this without taking liberties with the lore and turning from roleplay into outright fanfiction, which isn’t something I wish to do. Therefore, the world Stalward exists in remains the same as the regular one except the druid Kritigri does not exist. I chose to make Stalward my druid’s alternate self because I couldn’t pass up the cool factor of having a what-if Death Knight version of my main. Also, the Alliance expedition into Northrend is not the one that takes place at the beginning of WOTLK (as the Ebon Blade plot had already happened by then) but is one that takes place beforehand.

Coming next: Sisters of Light and Shadow, and Miscellaneous Heroes of the Alliance

My Decade-Long WoW History

World of Warcraft has easily become my most-played game of all time, and I’m probably safe in assuming that the all-time part is gonna stick. Due to this, when a recent reddit thread popped up asking people of their earliest WoW memories, I decided to recount just where this potentially unhealthy obsession all began.

When I was twelve my Dad bought me the Burning Crusade + Vanilla WoW BattleChest. He knew I played Runescape and thought I’d like this… though I’m not sure if he was aware of the monthly subscription fee. After being unable to download it on our family PC I gave up on it and spent a few months reading the game guides instead.

Eventually on some random day I decided to try the download again, this time with the WoW website open. According to my placebo-addled mind this made it work, and I promptly jumped in with the gametime provided and made a human warrior to get a feel for the world before I chose my real race/class combo. After making it to Goldshire I decided to reroll as a Night Elf Druid, as I’d seen people running around as bears and cats and wanted to be able to do that. Shapeshifting was clearly the coolest ability in the game, in the mind of a twelve-year old. And that’s how… I can’t say it with a straight face… that’s how the Druid Shadowmadman was born.

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I’ve lost my original screenshots but luckily I made video slideshows of them that still exist on Youtube! Link’s at the bottom of this post, if you’re interested. It’s *very* 2008.

Over the course of the next few months I joined a guild called Dynasty Warriors (EU Karazhan), and ran around in Elwynn Forest and Westfall killing mobs and ignoring quests. I distinctly remember my guildies poking fun at me for levelling as slowly as I did. Oftentimes, I’d just hang out in Goldshire or travel across the world, dodging (often unsuccessfully) between mobs to make it to strange and hostile territories. I think I made it to Durotar once. Other naive noobish memories of this time period I have include running around Elwynn trying to figure out how to level woodcutting (not a skill), and leaving Dynasty Warriors to start my own guild (an edgily named Shadows of Destiny) which attracted many clueless players as low a level as their Guild Leader.

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That message of the day is inspiring.

After about twenty levels of pissing around I was distracted by the ever-present call of Runescape, and that was that. I neglected to tell my Dad that I no longer played the game so he payed for about five months of WoW for no reason (sorry Dad) and I considered my WoW days to be behind me. But eventually – and I don’t remember quite how I came to learn about this – I discovered the existence of private servers for the game, allowing you to play for free (and against Blizzard’s wishes). I promptly hopped into an instant-level-70 server and began exploring Burning Crusade’s Outland on a pimped-out version of my Night Elf Druid. Over these next few months I’d spend many hours hopping between different servers as they got shut down or failed to work, from fast-levelling servers to “Blizzlike” servers. I vaguely recall seeing the Wrath of the Lich King loading screen for the first time, so around then must have been when I stopped playing private servers.

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I didn’t earn this.

I even figured out how to set up my own private server for personal use, so as to mess around with GM commands. I recall turning myself into a giant, switching models to various boss NPCs in the game, teleporting to an undeveloped Emerald Dream and making NPC’s say weird and wonderful things. Looking back, this kind of experimentation was experienced by very few players, and I’m lucky that my bored teenage self took the time to bother figuring it out. Current me doesn’t remember a single step of the process. All I know is that I couldn’t get mobs to spawn or quests to work, so the single-player WoW I dreamed of never came to fruition. And besides, it felt astoundingly lonely in an empty Azeroth.

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GM’s had access to a spell called “Hand of Death” which “Instantly kills all enemies.” Whatever resisted this, it was stronger than a GM.

What followed was the largest gap in my WoW history. I remember when Cataclysm was announced, and I was angry that they’d ruined Loch Modan. I remember hearing somewhere that Mists of Pandaria had been announced, and stating that the game was losing direction and probably on its way out. And then I stopped paying attention altogether. For all I knew, we could be 9 expansions deep by the time I next focused on it.

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You know what they say about people with big feet…

In 2013 I became a uni student, and it only took a few months of having my own income and a new laptop before putting two and two together and re-considering World of Warcraft. I poked my friend Reece about trying the level 20 trial, to which he said he’d already done it on a Night Elf Druid. (We make very similar decisions sometimes.) Regardless, the idea of returning to WoW with one of my closest friends meant that I didn’t keep to the Starter Edition all that long, and before I knew it I was shooting past level 20, joining a guild and diving deeper into WoW than ever before. This was near the start of 5.4 (the last patch of Mists), and it’s worth noting that I levelled my first ever character from 1 – 90 and still had time to get bored of the endgame content. I don’t know how long-time players survived the content drought.

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I bought the Fey Dragon after a student loan payment. Can’t say I’ve ridden that thing more than 6 times. What an investment!

Since then, I’ve levelled 9 out of 12 classes to level 100+ and have sunk literally thousands of hours into the game. I’ve been a part of four wonderful guilds and have met a plethora of new friends. I’ve become an on-and-off-again kind of player – usually a few months on and a few months off – but I still spend time goofing off, pursuing alternate avenues of gameplay and generally falling behind on my ilvl after I’ve consumed all of the narrative content that a patch provides. I’m starting to think I’m in this to the end.

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I’ve come a long way.

If they announce WoW 2, I’m fucked.

Screenshots Slideshow 1

Screenshots Slideshow 2

Screenshots Slideshow 3

Screenshots Slideshow 4 (The Series Reboot)