Archive for the “Recap” Category

Pull up a chair my friends, and let me share with you a tale of adventure… yes, adventure, but adventure shadowed by woe!

The story may be warmly familiar, but if you stay with me to the end there is a lesson to be learned within.

On an evening much like any other, a small band of misfit wanderers joined together. The purpose of their gathering was to enter the exciting Firelands, land of fun and frolic.

Firelands! A name that once spoke of endless hours of toil and grinding desperation, but now inhabiting that blessed ‘sweet spot’ for raiding; too easy for serious raiding, just difficult enough to need more than one person, lots of goofy mechanics, cool looking transmogs, and the possibility of super-cool rare mounts. Who could ask for more? Do a barrel roll!

Indeed, Firelands is now a place that is a joy to engage, taking only a scant handful of friends to romp merrily among the murderous minions, but having a bounty of potential rewards. Not least of which, of course, is that most wonderful of raid oddities, a Legendary weapon that multiple classes can use, that has little if any element of RNG, and that has so many stages lots of people can be doing it all in the same raid!

These few, these few, this band of misfits had fought together many a time before. MANY, MANY times before. I mean, seriously, that Legendary chain seems to take a coons age to get through.

Moving through that chain is kinda like trying to move a kidney stone. Lots of screaming and yelling, all out of proportion for the itty-bitty thing you get out the other end. And while it’s really important to you, nobody else really cares how the progress is coming. No, really. They don’t want to hear about it.

Of all of these friends that had gathered together, four had been there the longest.

There was Baddmojo, the Rogue, the tank in leather and the queen in red. Known chiefly for his alcohol consumption, Baddmojo could be counted on to be right up in the face of anything you cared to name, first to fight, warbling his mighty battlecry, “Cloak of Shadows, Cloak of Shadows, blood and souls for my Cloak of Shadows!”

Baddmojo is also known as the master of “where did he go, how the hell did he get to the next boss already, I didn’t know you could fly from Alysrazor direct to him, WTF.”

There was me, of course, the Warlock in spite of myself. Ever in pursuit of that next dribble of Smouldering Essences. What weapon do you have equipped, Bear? What’s that, Bear, did you fight a boss with your legendary staff-in-training equipped again? GG, Bear. GG. Did you remember to switch weapons, Bear? Did you, Bear? DID YOU? OMIGOD WHAT IS SO F’ING HARD ABOUT REMEMBERING TO SWITCH WEAPONS, BEAR?!?

By the way, did you remember to switch weapons back, Bear?

Then we had Elynea the fair, Elynea the Deadly Druid, Elynea of the everlasting hunt. Elynea, who has been on almost every single Firelands run with me, and every single fricken time the fire kitty staff has dropped, she has lost the roll to another Druid that came on our run for the first time and never, EVER came back again. And yet, she hasn’t yet killed me with the powers of her mind through the internet.

Tesh, I’m looking right straight at you, buddy. Firekitty staff ninja.

And of course, our course core foursome of diehards would not be complete without Aldyrr.

Aldyrr the Hunter. Trapmaster. Finder of rare pets. Talented multi-tasker and all around great guy.

Or is he?

There we were, once more unto the breach, facing the rocky chunks of magma, flames shooting into the skies.

We were so close. SO CLOSE.

For me, the road had been long, but I was finally nearing the end of the very last collection phase of the legendary questline. Smouldering Essences, that was my game, and the hunting had been good. 208 of the 250 were in my pouch already, and tonight would get me almost the rest of the way. If not tonight, then on our next visit ‘twould be a certainty.

And might not the mistress of chance smile on me yet tonight? The odds were long, but they could fall my way and this could be the very last night of chasing the chain, and the first day of being bound body and soul to the might of a majestic blue dragon for all time.

It could happen. It probably wouldn’t but IT COULD HAPPEN.

Never piss on the fingers of fate, they might wash their hands of your RNG chances for the future. Semper Fidelis. Always Faithful. It could happen. If not this time, then cheer up, next time for sure!

This was to be a special trip, my son was joining us after many months away from the game on his mighty Warlock Wooffie, and Elynea had brought her daughter along for her first full Firelands fun.

Also, and this was new, we would finally take a serious look at the Penitent achievement for Staghelm. I was sure, with the proper coaching and the use of /kneel macros we would get that one down, after our many half-assed attempts on previous weeks.

We began to kill the many, many trash needed for Shannox to get riled up, and it was so chaotic with summonings and late visitors and invites and scurrying around that we very nearly facepulled Shannox before I ever knew he had spawned.

Accidental boss kills are never a good sign, but first down and time to get a move on. Beth’tilac next, Bear which weapon do you have equipped? The right one? Good furball, here’s a cookie, keep it up.

Time to face the spider, my son wants to go up topside, being on the spider’s web is something he enjoys and remembers fondly it seems. I say sure, the more the merrier, I watch as it seems the entire group goes up top, and I’ve barely given the trash down below a glare and a scolding before Beth’tialc comes tumbling down, the web… comes tumbling down.

Loot, mount up and almost everyone dashes off to the next boss (magma!) as I swap weapons to my baby-almost-legendary and wait out the 30 second cooldown before I can drain the cold, dead corpse of it’s Smouldering Essences.

12… 11… 10… 9…

Beth’tilac disappears.

huh.

Wait.

WAIT.

WAIT ONE MOTHER (^)*(&^)& MINUTE HOLD THE PHONE WTF OVER!?!

WHERE THE FUCK DID MY SPIDER GO?

I SAID WHO STOLE MY MOTHER FUCKING SPIDER IN THIS MOTHERFUCKING RAID?

I look across the suddenly vacant space in shock, to see a lone Hunter standing there, looking back at me.

Standing there.

Hands full of spider leather.

SPIDER. LEATHER.

Aldyrr skinned my Beth’tilac. 

SKINNED HER WITH MY SMOULDERING ESSENCES STILL ON HER COLD, DEAD CORPSE.

Spiderthief, I name you. Trapmaster, Pet Finder, and now Spiderthief.

I’d call you a base, deceitful leather whore, but I’m actually afraid of what that would do to search engines and my traffic. Also, Leather Whore sounds like a pretty cool job description now that I think of it, I used to do leathercrafting, some of the stuff people would ask me to make I coulda put that on a business card, “John Patricelli, Leather Whore.”

I turn to my wife, I turn to her and I say, “He skinned her. He skinned Beth’tilac! He skinned my spider! I could have finished the quest tonight but HE SKINNED MY ESSENCES.”

And she looks at me, eyes devoid of sympathy, Cassie looks at me and she says, “Well, there’s a lot of leather on one of those. Also, you never would have finished the quest tonight. Get over it.”

Really?

Sigh.

Well, fine, but I can pout and write a really long blog post all about it, can’t I? That’s what mature adults do when they get all pouty over a video game, right?

oh, they don’t? they suck it up and move on? hah, you ain’t been around here much, has you?

Dedicated with loving respect to my buddy Aldyrr, make sure you go cheer him up on Twitter, his handle is @jhdesynz and I just know he’d love to hear from you.

The moral of the story, the lesson, the key thing to take away from all this, is… if you’re doing this chain watch out for your buddies, now that Baddmojo knows Beth’tilac can be skinned he announced he’s going to be using that knowledge for evil from now on, I’m telling you, watch your friends, they’re not to be trusted with this kind of power.

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Klaxxiarrayed

We were a grim crew as we filed through the open arch. The Blackfuse Company and a mighty dinosaur. All of that just to guard a door? What else are we going to find up ahead, corrupted Celestials led by a sha-infested Sargeras?

I was past caring. I felt numb. All I wanted to do was get past all of these misguided fools that believed in Garrosh, get this thing done. If the Kor’kron stood and died or were smart enough to run screaming before us, no difference to me.

Throw them all at us, Garrosh. Send us your fine Orc warriors, your true believers in your vision of what a Horde should be. So many good men and women lost for nothing while you cower in your hole. Explain to their mothers and fathers, explain how all this will bring about the bright future of your True Horde.

Or better still, don’t bother trying to explain. They will find the answers for themselves when they see your head at the tip of our spear.

The battle against Thok must have beaten me down more than I thought, because I didn’t get that we were under attack until the hum of an edge whipped past my head.

I ducked, startled out of my thoughts and quickly tossed up a rain of fire to get some breathing room.

Shit, I knew that buzzing sound.

The passage before us was thick with mantid warriors, their razor-edged limbs flashing as they attacked, wings buzzing as some leaped to try and flank us from the left.

Mantid?

Why the bloody hell would the mantid be here? Empress Shek’zeer was dead and gone and the mantid were under the guidance of the Klaxxi while they awaited the birth of a new Empress.

The Klaxxi… yes. Even in the dim light, I could make out some of the markings on the carapaces of the mantid pushing against each other in their eagerness to get at us. These were Klaxxi, untouched by the taint of the sha.

But why?

The Klaxxi warriors we fought showed no sign of wanting to talk it over. They were intent on getting to us and tearing us to pieces. It seemed they had been set to guard the way, and now that we had penetrated past the doors they would kill us or fall. Absolutely fearless and dedicated to fulfilling the will of the Klaxxi’va and their duty, as a true Klaxxi should be.

As we forced our way deeper into the passage, mandibles and armor pieces flying past, I thought I knew what was going on, and it felt like I’d been punched in the gut. Had it really only been a short few hours since I’d jokingly wondered if we would have to fight our family next?

And for my sins, here we are.

I remembered clearly the last time I saw Kil’ruk, my first and best friend among the Klaxxi, the first of the champions I had labored to free from his amber prison.

He had taken me aside to where the great sealed door faced the resonating crystals of the Klaxxi. I had always assumed behind it lay the entombed remains of great Klaxxi warriors of the past, perhaps even the Empresses of previous dynasties. Or maybe that was where they stored the fluids of their champions for genetic manipulators like Rik’kal to work with, always trying to improve the race.

What I learned from my swarm brother was a far different tale.

Kil’ruk had opened the way for me, and led me deep beneath the Klaxxi mound to a carefully guarded chamber. There were decorous carvings on the walls showing scenes from the mantid past. Scenes of the origin of the mantid… and who they truly served.

Kil’ruk said to me, “Wakener, your deeds have earned you the trust of the Klaxxi. You are to be rewarded.”

“The mantid are an elder race. The pandaren you associate with – they are but children. They have their role to play.”

“Each cycle, our young swarm their walls. The pandaren slay the weak. The strong return. With each generation, we grow ever stronger.”

“Before your history began, our empire was vast. We shared this world with our sister kingdoms, Ahn’Qiraj and Azjol-Nerub. Our Gods were many, and powerful.”

“We mantid worshipped the seven heads of Y’shaarj. Great was the Old One, and terrible was His wrath. He consumed hope and begat despair; He inhaled courage and breathed fear.”

“When the usurpers came – the ones you call ‘Titans’ – Y’shaarj was destroyed.”

“His last terrible breath has haunted this land ever since, but the shadows he left behind are mere whispers of his former glory.”

“I tell you now, because you have earned this warning. Your gods are not our gods, outsider. If the Old Ones ever return, we mantid will once again stand by their side. The wisest among you will do the same.”

I had stood in that chamber for some time afterwards, coming to grips with what he meant.

From the moment I had freed Kil’ruk from the amber, I had done my best to be a true friend to the Klaxxi. Together we had been successful in freeing the mantid from their slavery to the Sha of Fear, and regaining their freedom.

The truth was, the Klaxxi were the people I felt most comfortable with. The Horde and the Alliance were full of themselves and their petty fears, their prejudices and their hatreds. They brought their crap everywhere they went, and if they looked to build something for others it was just to consolidate their strength or build alliances so they could have greater resources or more allies for the next time they wanted to fuck something up.

The Klaxxi didn’t play any of those games. They had duty, commitment, a sense of purpose. They followed orders, and put the good of the many before the needs of themselves. They looked for and recognized excellence; what mattered was what you did, not what you said you intended to do. You couldn’t bullshit the Klaxxi, you performed and were rewarded or failed and were tossed on the shit pile.

Everything was aimed towards building a stronger society, a more powerful people that could face any challenge and survive into the future.  They didn’t waste time proclaiming how fucking great they were or how perfect and awesome the current rulers were. No statues were built, no fawning tributes, none of that crap. The Klaxxi didn’t pretend the world had achieved perfection when a royal child was born. They looked to the future, always to the future.

Fuck Varian, and fuck the statue he built to himself at the entrance to his castle. How about the masses starving at the walls of Sentinel Hill? The history of Westfall was written by the blood of those cast aside. But a statue to the greatness that is Varian Wrynn? Oh yes, by all means, open the treasury and bring up the construction teams.

The Klaxxi are my people, I am the Wakener and their swarm brother.

That is what made the secrets he entrusted to me so hard to bear. For all their logic and order, for their goal of a stronger tomorrow, they were still trapped by their beginnings.

Even as they grew stronger, smarter, as they began to think for themselves and act independently, in their hearts they thought it was all in service to some old dead god they worshipped in a musty old chamber.

I had left that chamber grateful that Y’shaarj was dead and gone.

As strong as the Klaxxi were already, it seemed to me every generation that got farther from the days of Y’shaarj would grow more independent. Their efforts to improve the race were bearing unexpected fruit. Given enough time, I bet they’d become a people free of the influence of Y’shaarj and look for a way past the cycle of war with the pandaren on their own. They probably didn’t even realize they were doing it.

I snapped back from my memories in horror, as I realized what this meant.

The heart of Y’shaarj reborn. How could I have been so stupid as to miss what that would mean to the Klaxxi? For all their selfless attention to duty, they still looked for someone, the right someone to take charge and tell them what to do. With their Empress dead they would be even more desperate for a leader to follow. A leader that tradition supported.

Who better than someone consumed by the Heart of Y’shaarj itself? To the Klaxxi, it wouldn’t be Garrosh using the dark power of the heart, it would be the Heart of their One True God speaking to them at last, through a warm-blooded faceless puppet.

Shit. Shit, shit, shit!

My teammates killed the last of the Klaxxi warriors, leaving the rest of the tunnel clear.

We pushed on and stepped into a vast chamber, with, yep, another big fucking locked door on the other side.

The room was very large with a high domed ceiling and raised terraces to left and right. Plenty of room for all manner of flying, leaping and crawling critters to come swarming down on us. Joy.

The room was full of Klaxxi, but the very first thing that drew my eye was an empty wooden crate cast off and abandoned in the far corner of the room.

There lay the chest that had held the Heart of Y’shaarj, still glowing with the lingering purple essence of a dead god come back to life. Proof if I needed any that a remnant of Y’shaarj was returned, surrounded by a swarm of Klaxxi eager to defend the way against any who came.

Against me.

The room was filled with those I had come to call my friends.

My heart was lifted for a moment to see massive Kovok stomping around impatiently behind the Klaxxi warriors like a particularly impatient dog that had forgotten where he had buried a bone. Ah, the good times he and I had had!

But enough. The Klaxxi had their duty, but so did I. There was a reason we got along so well.

Arrayed about the high terraces, the nine surviving Klaxxi Paragons looked down upon us.

I had stood beside each and every one of these powerful champions in battle, and I had cause to respect their will. They had never known defeat, and were so committed to duty they had permitted themselves to be entombed in amber, possibly for all time, just to be ready against the day their might was needed in defense of their people. And in the hopes of a good bloodbath, too.

As I’d expected, the first to recognize me was Kil’ruk, the Wind-Reaver. The angel of death, he who had laid waste to countless pandaren and mogu. He called to the others around him, saying “Look, brothers! The Wakener is here!”

My heart sunk even further. I already knew there would be no talking around this. You don’t convince the Klaxxi, you don’t debate or plead. They make a decision, and then carry it out. You could point out an advantage they overlooked and hope the Klaxxi elders would see your point, but if not, tough shit.

Rik’kal the Dissector turned his head to stare at Kil’ruk in disbelief. “They made it this far? I TOLD you the others needed some microsonic genetic alterations!”

I had to chuckle at that. Ah, Rik’kal, always letting his desire to investigate come before the matter at hand. I still had to laugh at the way Kaz’tik shut him down when Rik’kal wanted to… investigate the source of Kovok’s great strength. At least he did before Kaz’tik pointed out his vulnerability to sonics and how fascinating he might find his own spleen.

Iyyokuk the Lucid was clearly irritated, as if the solution to a clearly foreseen problem hadn’t worked out after all. “How illogical… Did they not take your warning, Kil’ruk?”

Kil’ruk shrugged his winged shoulders as Xaril the Poisoned Mind reminded him, “We Mantid serve a power far greater than they or their gods.”

Kaz’tik finished the brief exchange between them, and in that moment I realized that my chance to speak was lost. I had just watched them discuss how far being the Wakener would carry us, and as Kaz’tik said, the answer was “It matters not. The Old One will not suffer their intrusion.”

The nine Paragons all turned to look at us, and Korven the Prime addressed us directly for the first time.

“We have endured the Usurpers, their children, the loss of the Old One, and soon… you.”

Ka’roz the Locust joined in, speaking as if continuing the same thought. As though all the Paragons were of one mind.

“We will slay you all as easily as we slew the pandaren of old!”

Skeer the Bloodseeker picked up the thread, saying “And then the Old One will remake this world, for the Mantid.”

Hisek the Swarmkeeper fluffed his wings, saying what we knew would surely follow.

“Come, children of the Titans… You face the Paragons.”

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Thokunchained

So! We left behind us the piped-in sounds of a deconstructed Blackfuse Company death dealer in search of the second and final part of the key we would need.

I’m normally the last person to be accused of having too much sense. Again, I chose to sell my soul for a minion to fetch me beer because I was too lazy to get off the couch. Long range planning and thinking about tomorrow aren’t high on my ‘to do’ list.

Despite that, I can’t help but wonder. If I wanted to seal a door so nobody could get to me, I might give one part of the key to the Blackfuse Company, and force a giant bloodthirsty dinosaur to eat the other.

But that’s because I’m an idiot, and it would only occur to me later when I ordered pizza to wonder how the hell I was going to open the door to get the delivery. You can’t be telling me Garrosh was so short-sighted that he locked his ass deep inside an impenetrable vault, and never gave a moments thought to the consequences of feeding one half of the key to a dinosaur.

On the other hand, that would explain so much.

What kind of lunatic declares war on the entire world, right? I mean, come on, it wasn’t enough to attack his traditional enemies, it wasn’t even enough to seek out a whole new continent to declare war on, oh no, he had to declare war on his own side… and then promptly crawl into the deepest hole he could find, lock the door, and feed the key to his pet dinosaur.

Yeah, that’s forward thinking and a strategic genius of galactic proportions.

Or, you know, a bloody loony.

Musing over the shortcomings of our enemy doesn’t get the job done. And if we wait too long, we’ll be digging through piles of dinosaur poop looking for the other half of the key before the day is done.

Not that I’m a stranger to rooting through piles of poop for loot, in fact at this point I consider myself a poop processing professional, a true poop loot scooper, but I’d rather deal with the front end of the critter if at all possible.

Back across the bridge through the spoils storeroom we ran!

Down the rough corridor we trotted, descending deeper into Garroshland with the growing scent of animal musk rising all around us. The screams and cries of caged beasts assaulted our ears, and we could sense that feeling of vibration you get in the air when you are near a lot of pissed off critters in very small cages.

We stopped just short of the lighted cavern and watched as Thok fought against a mass of Kor’kron tamers trying to force him back into his blown out cage.

Yup. That there is one big ass dinosaur, that there sure is.

It seemed fully preoccupied with the fun of trying to eat it’s handlers, but I have to tell you, I didn’t like the gleam I saw in it’s eye.

It looked like there was more to it than simply animal cunning.

It looked, well.

What it looked like was a 200 ton appetite with tooth and claw bits tacked on, a spiked tail, thoughtfully applied metal accessories that all the fashionable dinosaurs are wearing this season, powered by a 20 ton brain keen enough to know that quantity has a quality all it’s own.

There was a bountiful bonanza of tooth and claw with a bodacious booty on board. I guess Kor’kron tamers like big butts, but the veracity of their statements cannot be verified at this time. Since, you know. He ate ‘em.

As the last Kor’kron tamer disappeared down Thok’s gullet, we all gave a little cheer. I found myself rooting for the dinosaur.

Is that wrong?

Pumpken spoke up with what I was thinking, saying “I don’t want to do this.”

Tom rejoined with, “But think of the loot!”

Pumpken was firm. “I don’t want to kill him. It’s not his fault. Can’t we go around?”

I had to stop and think about that one. I mean, we could find another way in, couldn’t we? Don’t we have, like, gnome tanks and shit? In fact, and this is just me, but I could swear we just left behind a room simply crawling with bombs and other illicit weapons of silly destruction.

Hell, I’m an engineer, Mibs is an engineer, it feels like half of our team are engineers because, hello, rocket belts and Jeeves, so I don’t see why we couldn’t just, um, appropriate a few of those portable tracking lasers. Maybe an electromagnet to rip the doors apart in some big hinge-warping time space thingie.

There is this term, maybe you’ve heard of it. Repurpose? I’d like to repurpose a tracking laser right through the locked door.

While I was lost in thought, Pumpken was fighting the good fight on behalf of dinosaur decency. I didn’t say anything, but secretly, my heart was with her.

After this, what will we have to do next? Kill our very bestest friends, all just to bring justice to one immature griefing orc with daddy issues?

But no, no, there is a way things must be done, and our feelings of regret must be pushed aside if we are to proceed further on our journey. We killed General Nazgrim rather than take the time to find the service elevators, so chances are good we’re not going to give a dino a pass.

There is a perverse part of me that can’t WAIT to see what he has to offer in the way of upgrades.No, not because I lust for power. Well, maybe just a little.

No, I’m curious to see what we find, where it’s at, and to settle a private bet I have.

I bet everything we find is Kor’kron-sized.

So into the jaws of certain death strode the ten. No, not the ten thousand. TEN.

Well, not into the jaws. In front of the jaws? Beside the jaws, but a little to the rear, near the leg closest to the center of the room, maybe.

Ten people without siege engines or war machines, strolling into a big room lined with cages full of cranky people, all to kill a ten story tall dinosaur.

I’d like to say that we had learned from all that we had endured up to this point.

I’d LIKE to say that we approached cautiously, analyzed the situation, and proceeded with a clear goal in mind. Short term tactical objectives, fire and manuever to use terrain and line of sight to our advantage, creative use of improvised materials found at hand.

But no. All that came later.

What we did at first was to charge in wands a’blazing to see what would happen.

What happened was, Pankration the Megamonk got out in front of it, waving his arms over his head to draw it’s attention, and the rest of us, and I do mean ALL the rest of us charged in to stand right in it’s blind spot behind it’s left foreleg and started pounding it in it’s side as hard as we could.

Right away, we had problems. It kept shouting, and shouting, and every single damn time it shouted the shock of it broke our concentration, interrupting whatever we were trying to do. Anything, anything that couldn’t be done in an instant would just get knocked right out of our heads. I found myself carefully synchronizing my spells, timing it so immediately after a shout I would cast a few times, then pause for a shout, then cast again, fitting in either a Chaos Bolt or a couple of Incinerates depending on how fast those shouts went off.

Thok kept speeding up, shouting faster and faster until it was all we could do to stand there and not cower in terror. About the only people who could do shit were Arrakeen and her axe, Monstre and Pankration. Trajar the hunter got in some good hits too, but for most of us this was not fun.

Every time that shout came out, it seemed the concussion was knocking us around or something too, because we all started bleeding out the ears, and the scent of it sent Thok into a rage.

It wasn’t long before we were all bloody appetizers, the healers couldn’t keep up anymore, and Thok went all Jurassic Park on us.

As soon as he roared and went nuts, we ran for it.

Most of us had something else to occupy our time. When Thok went wild, some kind of half-assed dino tamer came running into the room to try and regain control. Yeah, good luck with that.

Our more close-in fighters went after the tamer, while the rest of us chased after Thok, running like hell back and forth across the chamber.

Oh, did I forget to mention why we had to run around chasing after Thok?

One poor soul, it seemed, had a special destiny in store; dino chow.

As soon as Thok went bloodthirsty, he fixated on someone and just went barreling tail over talons after them.

The first time this happened, sadly enough, it was Pumpken, who paid for her attempts to spare Thok’s life by having to run like hell.

She quickly changed into a wolf and went blazing down the hall for dear life, 200 tons of angry dino hot on her paws. Tom followed to try healing her on the run, and we all shouted encouragement as we realized that in his bloodthirsty haze, Thok was slavering and chomping and looked ready to rend and shred anything in his path.

We soon found out how true that was.

When the tamer died, we rummaged in his pockets (yes, in the middle of a fight, what part of loot and scoot don’t you get yet?) and found a key to the full cages around us. We looked around and saw a group of Waterspeakers in a cage off to the side. We realized maybe we could free them, and they could help us in this fight!

We ran over to the Waterspeaker cage just about the same time as Thok was growing tired of chasing Pumpken all the way down that long, long hallway, and for whatever dino-brained reason he fixated on Chron, who was back in the big chamber. With us. Like, standing right next to us where we were opening the cage.

Thok came running like hell after Chron. The speed that dino made on flat ground was terrifying. No, really, the more he chased people around the faster he got. It was insane how fast he was getting, clearly every time he fixated on someone he got faster. We had to do something and like RIGHT NOW or there would be no way to stay ahead of him.

Chron saw a wall of dino bearing down on him, made a move towards the left, saw that Thok was about to cut him off, so he swerved to the right instead.

Running, coincidentally enough, through the rest of us.

We had just about enough time to scream “Oh Chron no!”, but it was too late. Buford T Dinosaur ate four of us before the rest had time to scatter, and, well… let’s just say that even if we could have recovered, the survivors were so shocked at this turn of events that we could barely get our hands up in time to scream in horror before becoming a mid-afternoon snack.

Thok ate us, ate us one and all.

That might seem disconcerting to hear, since, you know. I’m sitting here telling you the story of how it happened, but what can I say? We got better. Our dry cleaning bills are freaking EPIC.

This is a protip, but when you see 200 tons of dinosaur bearing down on you, get the hell out of the way, because if you get between him and a meal you will get eaten, right then and there, no waiting, no secret sauce, no sesame seed bun.

A corollary to the protip, if the lunch Thok is fixated on happens to be you, do not, ahem, DO NOT run Thok through the group of your friends.

And if your friends are like my friends, make sure you owe them all lots of money. You want your friends to have a vested interest in your remaining alive and earning wages.

We had plenty of time to face Thok again, this time better prepared to run. Also, we looked forward to opening the cage and releasing the Waterspeaker to help us.

Um, no.

As soon as we opened the cage, Thok took one whiff of fresh fish and forgot all about his fixated lunch. CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP. Who knew Thok was British? Fresh fish and chips sent him around the bend.

While Thok was temporarily sated by his dinner, we piled up on his flank and went back to work. He started yelling and screaming, just like before, but there was something new added to the mix. Ice!

Plumes of icy blood began to spurt from Thok’s wounds, and he started spraying Monstre with an icy breath that threatened to entomb him in a solid block.

Seriously? He gains the powers of whatever he eats? You can’t tell right now, because I look all fierce, but I’m crying on the inside. Fierce crying!

That’s kind of the way it went, though. If he ate one of us he just kept going, but if we unlocked a cage, he would eat whatever was inside and it would calm him right back down.

But whatever he ate, he became. Or some such portentous crap.

After letting the Waterspeakers out (sorry, Gorai!) we tried to look for assholes to release. After all, if you’re just looking for saurian supper, why feed him friends?

Fish should be friends, not food.

We let a bunch of skumblades led by Akolik out next, and sure as heck as soon as he was done munching them, it was acid acid everywhere. Blech.

Towards the end, we could tell we were getting to him. Thok was weakening, but he was still an incredibly fearsome foe. We dared not lessen our efforts. We had one cage key left, and we released Warmaster Montreal Fire Festival into the park.

Bonus. Our weapons caught on fire! All extra burny and stuff. But after Thok ate them, um… his blood caught on fire.

He started breathing flame like a dragon, his blood burst into flames, we all caught fire and puddles of burning blood pooled under our feet.

I know, right?

When I woke up this morning, I never thought the day would find me saying to anyone, “So there we were, fighting this giant fire-breathing dinosaur covered in flaming blood, and then we….”

On second thought, I seem to have those kinds of days a lot lately. I might need to upgrade my life insurance policy.

And borrow more money from all my friends.

Arrakeen spun into the air, twirling her two massive maces like drumsticks and played a Lars Ulrich-sized solo upside his scaly head. BAM! Down he goes!

Wait, when the hell did she get that mace? I thought she had axes. Good lord, the thing is the size of Thok’s leg!

Great, so now instead of filleted, the bosses be getting tenderized.

Once Thok had fallen, nothing stood between us and Garrosh. FINALLY!

We staggered to the massive door, broken, burnt and bleeding and missing several important bits.

We unlocked the door and kicked it painfully to the side.

We strode forward, determined to put an end to this fight and ensure the continued safety of Azeroth.

For my part, I was no longer fighting for king, country or revenge of the Vale.

I was fighting for one thing, and one thing only.

Time off to have an all day spa.

Mud bath, manicure, pedicure, and oh lord hot stone therapy. Massage.

I will fucking KILL for a massage.

Aromatherapy? I have smelled, RIGHT UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL, the halitosis of a building-sized dinosaur. I want some fucking aromatherapy.

Yeah, I’ve found something worth fighting for.

Why do we fight?

You really want to know why we fight, Lorewalker Cho?

I’ll tell you.

An herb-infused heated wrap around my face, hot stones on my back, and a steam tub for later.

With rose petals. And maybe a nice biscotti with tea.

Ouchie!

Buttflame the Fierce

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Thok the Bloodthirsty

There is a trend I’ve noticed through the years.

I know, I know. I mention all of these things, and it probably sounds like I spend my days peering at the world from under the brim of a tinfoil hat.

It’s not true. My hat is lined with truesteel. Provides a lot more protection from the Titan mind control rays, plus it’s a lifesaver when those impromptu bar brawls break out.

But back on topic. My friends just blunder in and out of trouble and don’t think much of it, but I pay attention to these things.

Here is the thing I’ve noticed.

It seems as though the dinosaurs we fight keep getting a little bigger, a little faster, and a bit better armed every year.

Every. Single. Year.

I can’t quite explain it. I mean, sure, my suspicions were aroused the first time I descended into Un’goro Crater. I had barely stepped foot into the leafy green thickets and I was jumped by a raptor.

Only thing is, this raptor was wearing jewelry. Feathers and beads and shit. Makeup, claw polish, that kind of thing.

This concerned me.

I figured there were one of two things going on.

First, maybe these raptors were smart, had some form of primitive tribal society developing, were in the process of developing a rudimentary tribal structure. They were beginning to value ornamentation in efforts to attract a more discerning mate, took pains about their appearance, you know. Dressing themselves up. Checking their appearance out in still ponds and puddles.

Vain dinos.

Or, and here was the alternative that kept me up at night…

Maybe somewhere out there is a dinosaur fancier that crept around, dressing them up. Making them pretty for his own sick, twisted purposes.

Maybe somewhere out there was some errant Troll looking at a saurian fangéd maw thinking, “Mm you got a mighty purty mouth.”

That’s a thought to keep you awake on a cold, lonely night of camping in Un’goro, I shit you not.

Since that day, as I said, I’ve kept my eyes open. I watch, and I study. And I’ve seen the trends.

Dinosaurs with ornamentation, dinosaurs in bondage gear, dinosaurs with laser beams, shoulder fired cannon and even in one case a baby dinosaur learning how to trick his way to freedom from the trolls of Zul’Gurub with torches and stuff.

The creepy dinophile trolls of Zul-gurub.

I’ve come to the conclusion that both of my original ideas were true.

The dinosaurs are intelligent.

And there are people out there, specifically trolls, that, well… fancy them.

Wait, I know, I know, the idea of a special interest magazine called “Dino Fancy” is disturbing, but look at the facts!

Look at the facts.

The trolls, they keep getting caught with tied up dinosaurs, trying to get them to do things that are against their nature.

There are even trolls who, and I hesitate to mention this…

There are trolls that have gone so far down the dark road of dino depravity to have taken the time to learn how to transform themselves into dinosaurs.

I know, that sounds cool at first. Right? And for you and me, it would be. An innocent afternoon daydream from Calvin and Hobbes, romping stomping dino fun. Rawr!

Based on the evidence, I think those Trolls have staked out a darker territory.

You’re probably wondering why I bring all of that up.

No reason. No reason whatsoever.

 

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Siegecrafter BlastfuseIt was with a sigh of relief that we left the roar of pissed off dinosaur behind us to see what lay behind door number three.

We trotted back the way we had come, passing quickly over the bridge only to stop dead in our tracks at the entrance to the huge cavernous room.

“Okay, there were two armies here just a bit ago. Anybody see where they went?”

“Nope.”

“No, seriously, how do you lose an army? Hello?” I stepped further out into the echoing, empty chamber, and yelling louder called, “Hello!?!”

Huh. You know, if I were given to introspection, this might worry me a little. Fortunately, I can rarely stay focused on one thing long enough to start wor… “Oh hey, is that door unlocked?”

The others had moved on without me, crossing the vast room to the big door opposite the bridge. With a gentle push of the hand, Monstre sent the imposing doors to swing open, revealing a long, wide corridor lined with pipes and tubes.

At the far end of the corridor were several large sewer pipes, their uncovered openings angled upwards towards us.

Their gaping, oh so very large uncovered openings.

I muttered “Badeba ba bop doot doot doot doot” under my breath, hearing others in the group utter similar charms against pipes and evil flowers at the same time.

As we approached the pipes, several foes jumped out at us from inside them, and began to launch missiles and tracking lasers. We sprung into action, hurling arcane energies, fireballs, explosive shells and in one case a slightly rabid badger at our foes.

Then the first of our strongest, most durable teammates went down to a laser, homing robot bombs began scuttling towards us, and Chron uttered those fateful words of ancient wisdom, “Run away! Break for the door!”

I took off back the way we had come as fast as I could, the rocket exhaust leaving a plume of flame behind me. I took pleasure in leaving the last of my team in the dust. One more speed bump for my enemies to stumble across before they can get me!

For truly it is said, I do not have to be faster than my pursuer, I just have to be faster than the rest of the pursued. Verily, they are the appetizer and, if I’m lucky, can also serve as the main course.

As soon as it seemed safe, or rather as soon as our more durable companions came through the gateway to rejoin the fight, I slowed and added my assistance.

We made our stand there, in the massive chamber where not long before High-Tinker Mekkatorque and his army of gnomes had held their ground. Is this what happened to them? Were they out fought, outthought, out improvised? Did they fail to adapt and were overcome?

With Monstre and Pankration once more leading the way, with the full support of Pumpken, Callaghan and even Tom, we began to push them back and take them down, one at a time.

Then our feet got damn hot. I heard a sizzling sound, I smelled the too, too familiar scent of warlocks roasting on an open fire, and I started running around in circles, screaming “Mah biscuits is burning! Mah biscuits is burning!”

“Where the hell is it coming from? OUCH! Run! Damn it, it’s following me! Where is it? What’s doing this and make the bad man stop….”

“It’s a tracking laser from the original room near the pipes, it’s shooting up at us through the floor!”

“Arrgh! CHARGE!”

We sped back through the door and down the corridor, our sights set on taking down our deadliest foe to date; a gnome wielding a massive shoulder-fired laser cannon that could apparently cut through a mile of steel decking with unerring accuracy.

Okay, I’ll admit it. I want one of those.

We broke her toy and she went down fighting, Arrakeen’s firmly planted axe finally silencing her snarls.

Geez, tough crowd.

Looking out past the pipes in front of us, we saw a massive, well, arena. Shit, I dunno man. It looked like an arena to me. Maybe that’s how Garrosh did all of his corporate meetings? The department heads form their employees into groups in the middle of an arena, and then they fight their way back out through deathtraps, dinosaurs, stale donuts and coffee blasters to freedom?

I dunno. I’ve heard of stupider group-building exercises. There is this one where they expect you to fall backward into someone else’s arms? You’re supposed to like, learn trust when your coworker catches you and shit. Well, what do you foster when he drops your ass? I ask you.

No, really, I’m asking you. I think Tom is gonna slash my tires. Hell, it’s not like he needed a cast or anything. Brush it off, you’re a priest, heal thyself and all that crap.

Anyway, the opposite wall was one massive machine of some kind, grinding and sparking and welding up bits. On the left side of the room, across a gap filled with pipes, a conveyor belt entered the room from to the left of where we were and headed forward, vanishing behind the massive machine. It came back out again from the right of the machine towards us and disappeared into the wall beside us.

There were pipes to the left of the room and again directly in front of us, and other than that, the arena floor was surrounded by space. How the hell were we supposed to jump across to it?

Wait. Why were we going over there?

“Wait. Why are we going over there? Is that machine loot? It ain’t fitting in my bags, I know that.”

“No, the final door leading to Garrosh is locked, and we need to get the key off of him.”

“Him? Him who?”

“Him.”

Chron pointed across the vast arena floor to the front of the console, where, far off in the distance I could sort of see a big, mechanical shredder-looking monster with the coolest glowing blue fist thingie ever lumbering around fiddling with the controls of the machine. I pulled out my Spyglass and zoomed in for a better look.

Why, however did I miss it hiding there.

Okay, so big bad machine dude thingie. Right. We’ve taken down the Iron Juggernaut, exactly how bad could this be? Linkages and bombs and sawblades. Whoopie.

I went back to eyeing the conveyor belt with something akin to terror in my heart. Somehow, I just knew I was going to end up running on that conveyor being pursued by tracking lasers. And monstrous chainsaw blades. I just knew it.

Chron said, “Everyone listen up. It’s obvious what we’re going to have to do here. We’re going to have to jump in this pipe in front of us, we’ll be spit out onto the platform over there. Then we attack Blackfuse and destroy him. We’ll pry the key to those doors from his still-smoking corpse.”

“That’s obvious, is it? What about the conveyor?”

“What about it?”

“You’re telling me that there is no chance at all one of us will end up on that conveyor then, are you? Is that right?”

“Oh, right. Yeah, I was reading the markings on the walls, other side of that wall to the left of us is where all the death machines go through rough first stage assembly. Then they come in here on the conveyor, go into that machine, get finished and operational, and go out the right hand side to the freight elevators.”

“You can read goblin engineering instructions and signs?”

“Yes, why?”

“Nothing.”

“So someone is going to have to go up on the conveyor and destroy whatever you have time to before it comes out the other end and blows us up.”

“Why can’t we simply walk over to the rough assembly area, kill the goblin peons working in there, make sure nothing comes out to get finished?”

“Goblin Workers Union filed a grievance. The GWU says after that whole Death Star thing, all workers have an automatic exemption from mass destruction events on underground or intersteller villain lairs.”

“We could evacuate?”

“What, before it’s time to punch out? You’ve never worked with a union before, have you.”

“Fine, okay. So, why not go in there and blow the parts up? They can stay on the clock, we’ll just destroy the parts.”

“Can’t do it, subsection five says any damages to tools or equipment can result in serious penalties.”

We are here to kill Garrosh Hellscream and destroy the heart of an Old God. What, exactly, are we afraid of as a penalty here?”

“Lawyers.”

“Oh, shit, sorry, so you were saying about conveyors.”

Summibs - Master Warlock

“Bear, you’re going to be running on the conveyor with Mibs.”

They call me Bear. It must be a nickname, because my proper name is Buttflame, but since the alternatives seemed to be either Butt or Flamer, I felt I was getting the better part of the possibilities here.

Also, WTF, OVER?

“Um, I’m running with Mibs? On a conveyor. And we’re sure there will be death machines on this conveyor to destroy? This isn’t some ploy to get rid of by sending me on a conveyor to be sliced up by tracking lasers, is it?”

“No, no, no. No, you’ll be perfectly fine, Mibs is an absolute expert and will carefully and safely guide you through whatever you may face together. Trust him, he’s a professional, and the best damn Warlock on the server. I mean in the world.”

I looked over at Summibs. He grinned, waved, and flexed his muscles at me. His red loincloth fluttered a little, and I felt a bit greenish in the gills.

I quickly cast Unending Breath on myself to prevent getting sick, and looked back at Chron.

Really.”

“Absolutely, best Warlock in the world, and he will be your guide. Pay close attention to everything he says, and you’ll be just fine.”

“…”

“He isn’t wearing any clothes.”

“So?”

“We’re miles underground in the heart of Orgimmar, hunting Garrosh and fighting an army of every lewis carrol reject you can dip in purple paint that an old god could think of. And he’s naked. This is our expert?”

“He’s doing better than you are. Like twice as well. Maybe mo…”

“Point taken, no need to go on and on about it. Okay, let’s do this.”

As the rest of the group huddled together to discuss strategy, I walked over to Mibs. Oh dear lord, I think he flexed at me.

“So… what’s the plan?”

Mibs took a piece of chalk and began sketching an professional engineering diagram of the room, the conveyors, the machine, and the pipes. He labeled each part in sequence, drew zones of destruction and fields of fire, and began pointing out various bits as he talked.

“Here is the plan. We’ll move over here towards this pipe. Drop your personal portal, that way when we spread out between conveyor phases, you can get back faster when we have to go in. When I say go, we’re going to jump in this pipe and get dropped on the conveyor. Laser fences with small gaps will appear; don’t get touched or you’ll take severe damage. Enough that you might die or at least be a very crispy critter.”

“To continue. We will be on the conveyor. It will be moving in this direction, towards the machine, at a pace slightly faster than you can run even with enchanted boots. We will run against the flow, and three unfinished death machines will appear. I will call out what we want to destroy. We must pick one and only one, because as soon as one gets blown up the other two will turn turtle. Then we hop into a pipe just off the conveyor before getting pulled into the machine. Whichever death machine we destroy, we won’t have to deal with on the floor. Any questions?”

“Um.”

“Okay, here’s one. Why is a brilliant tactician and thoroughly-prepared agent of devastation dressed like a fruitcake?”

“Because fruitcakes are a pain in the ass, and you can’t get rid of them.”

“Fair enough… ”

We walked back over to the rest of the team in time to hear Chron say, “So when the entire field is full of spinning, hovering razor blades Mibs and Bear or Trajar and Chron will let an electromagnet through to clean them up”

“Right. Whichever conveyor team is up at the time.”

I broke in to ask, “We’re going to have two conveyor teams?”

“Yes, we’ll have to, once you’ve been on the conveyor you have to take a break, you can’t get right back up there or you’ll be laser chow.”

“Again, fair enough.”

“Okay, so, we gonna do this?”

“Go!”

Mibs and I ran over to the pipe closest to the left conveyor and jumped in as the rest of the team spread out around Blastfuse.

We dropped into the pipe, there was a feeling of rushing movement and then I plopped down onto a moving conveyor belt. Which immediately got criss-crossed with laser fences. And was moving at high speed.

I started running my butt off against the belt, and looming ahead of us, the first set of three devilish contraptions came through.

Mibs called out, “Go for the bombs first! Ignore the rest!”

I picked out the cluster of bombs, and began sending streamers of flame into them on the run until they blew up, all the time keeping an eye over my shoulder for gaps in the laser fencing to sidle over to.

The bombs blew up, and I turned to look for the pipe to jump into, and saw it just as the conveyor carried me past it.

“Noooooooo!”

I made a valiant leap for the pipe, and came up short, falling into the gap between the conveyor and the arena floor.

A little while later, a VERY little while later, I sat quietly at a campfire eating some snacks and listening to the conversation going on around me.

“Okay, so, by my count Bear has fallen off the edge, what, four times?”

“More like five.”

“And there was the time he stood ON the pipe to the conveyor, and a buzzing, spinning saw blade camped RIGHT ON THE PIPE so nobody could get in.”

“To be fair, that was Chron.”

“Okay, granted. But still. We’ve got one standnig in the blast zone when the drills broke through the crust, one case of intimate knowledge of a saw blade, on the premises, several jumps off the conveyor and a partridge in a pear tree.

Mibs spoke up and said, “Okay, Bear, you seem to be having… performance issues getting it in, I mean getting YOU in the big hole.”

“What we’ll do is, you go over near the pipe that you are trying to jump into and drop your personal portal. When you get to the end of the conveyor, instead of trying to make the pipe, ‘port.”

“So, kind of a ‘porta-pipey.”

“… No.”

“Do you think will work?”

“Can’t hurt. Let’s find out.”

Monstre stood up, dusted his hands off and said “Ready to get this done? All right, everyone. TIME TO DIE!”

Monstre charged in after Blackfuse, everyone else spread out, Arakeen leaped heroically behind Blackfuse and began unleashing a whirlwind of blows upon, I think, an unoffensive servo-cam, and Mibs and I hopped in the pipe, five by five.

This time for sure!

We dropped on the conveyor, ran towards the rapidly appearing parts, we attacked the bombs, and as we reached the darkness I activated my Demonic Circle and appeared perfectly safe and sound on the arena floor. IMMEDIATELY UNDER BLASTFUSE.

Eek!

I quickly scurried away, got to range dodging what seemed like an entire universe of spinning saw blades, only to have one fly at me, slam me backwards to the ground in a shredded mass, and leave me broken and dying on the floor.

As I blacked out, the last words I heard were Tom calling out, “Sorry, Bear!”

Gah.

About an hour later, and it was a somber bunch to be found munching on snacks.

“All right, let’s review.”

“Don’t stand close to the pipe or a saw blade can block it.”

“Don’t stand too close to the huge mechanical beast because it sends out waves of bad stuff that hurts everyone around it. Only one of our front line defenders can handle it.”

“Watch for the buzzbombs, and move before they pop out of the ground, just like dancing the waves of spreading crap on the Protectors of the Endless on the Terrace.”

“When we finally let an electromagnet through to sweep up all of the buzzsaw blades, do not stand directly in the path of the dozens of moving blades streaming directly toward you. This may come as a complete surprise, but that hurts. I thank you, and your healers will thank you.”

Somebody muttered, “Your healers will let your dumb ass die is what your healers will do.”

“Okay. I know you’re tired, I know you’re feeling sorry and sore, but this time it’s for real. Now let’s go get it!”

We lurched, I mean leaped to our feet and roared our defiance. This time for sure!

We spread out and prepared to give all we had, win or die. Again.

Siegemaster Blackfuse lifted it’s massive blue fist in the air and let loose with a shriek of tortured metal, freezing us in place as hard as stone.

All of us, that is, but Mibs.

Summibs2Blastfuse roared at us, “Why aren’t you stone cold, Mibs?”

Loincloth swaying, Mibs called back “BECAUSE I’M ALREADY ROCK HARD.”

Shortly thereafter, we all died. But we were all immensely cheered up, I have to admit.

We ate some snacks, straightened out loincloths (so to speak), dusted off our robes, and went in for reals. No jokes, no cute catch phrases, just an iron determination to get this mechanical monstrosity pounded into the control panel.

We fought with furious intensity. On and off the conveyor belt the two teams jumped like well-timed pistons. The buzz blades were spread out in a perfect fan, giving plenty of room to run. The tracking lasers were guided safely away, the creeping crawling bombs were burned down, the whole team handled the chaos of destruction like dancing through the raindrops and never getting wet.

Finally, Arrakeen the Bloody unleashed a mighty blow, and in absolute silence embedded her axe blade into Blackfuses’ skull, ending the fight and the goblin’s need for a hairdresser permanently.

We rested, we cheered rather weakly, and then we looted his still warm corpse.

Chron lifted up a key. Even I could see it was only half of a key for the lock we saw.

“Hey everyone, guess what? Looks like we get to hunt a dinosaur after all!”

“Oh, boy. Just…. just oh boy.”

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