Dear Azeroth...

Farewell letters to characters I've known.

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Dear Brann Bronzebeard…

This may be my most difficult letter to write. I was going to save it for the very last, but things outside of Azeroth have gotten in the way of my letter deliveries. I start off doing one thing, headed in one direction, and then a series of unexpected events take me further and further from what I set out to do. It’s become more important that i write the letter than that I write it when I intended to.

I guess you know what that’s like.

I know this must sound strange (though I’m betting you’ve heard stranger), but I have lived many lives on Azeroth. I first set foot in the world of Azeroth on the same day that adventurers were first able to accompany you into Ulduar. I saw the pictures of the wonders inside and said, “I want to go THERE!” Unfortunately, that was an expedition for seasoned adventurers, and I was not one. I was so un-seasoned I hadn’t even been to a cooking trainer to learn to make spice bread yet.

Eventually, I had much more personal reasons for wanting to go to Ulduar. Many of them were related to the things I learned about you. Whether I was traveling the world as a Forsaken warlock, Tauren druid, dwarf hunter (we won’t speak of the elves), my path kept crossing yours.

What is it that I learned about your life? That’s a lot of information to cover in one letter, but I’ll try. I’m sure you could correct a few stories and add a quite a lot to others, but I’ll tell you what it is I’ve gotten from studies in the Ironforge library and my own adventuring. (You may or may not remember that we’ve met a time or two. I was the dwarf lass with the baby bear named after you.) Get yourself a pint or seven and I’ll see how well I can tell the stories.



Your journal was part of what enticed adventurers to leave their everyday lives behind and set off exploring Azeroth. (http://www.wowpedia.org/Brann’s_Journal) Some folks - and by “some”, I mean over 10 million - have made something of a game out of exploring, fighting off demons and the Scourge, and what have you. I’ve been known to say the whole point of the game is to find you. “Everytime you find Brann Bronzebeard,” I tell them, “you’ve won the game. Anything left after that is just to keep you going until he gets to the next place where you’ll find him”. See, no one managed to catch up to you for a long time. It looked like you might be found, but things sort of dead-ended in Sillithus when we went to check on Glibb. (Your letter did ask that we check up on the monkey.) And there’ve been rumors that you went beyond the Dark Portal, but no one caught up with you there. Finally, though, we caught up to you in the Storm Peaks in Northrend! And then caught up to you again in Uldum. Always just before
"the game" ends. And then I go back and look at that journal of yours they made public. They made it public so folks would know you were missing and set off after you… not so folks would run off to fight demons and the Scourge, and earn a reputation with the Society of Lost Murloc Musicians or whoever… those things just happen along the way!

And, of course, that’s the point where someone pats me on the head and says, “Ha ha! That’s almost believable.” Well, I don’t know that I entirely believe it myself. I don’t necessarily think that’s all there is to it. But one thing I have learned is that life’s not just about getting from where you are to where you’re going. It’s about how you get there. What makes you YOU, and what makes your life YOUR life, is exactly which route you take and all the things you run into along the way. Which forests you wander in, and which mountains you climb, and which companions you pick up and which enemies you defeat. And really, that’s what it’s about. Getting where you’re going keeps you moving, but if you never get there in the end the journey itself has been worth so much.

You reminded me of that at a time I most needed to be reminded. I knew those things already, but I wasn’t listening to myself. I listened to you, though. And maybe a little to Prophet Velen, as well. He’s been known to say something that a famous person from beyond Azeroth once said… “Not all who wander are lost.” I think of you every time. Not being where you thought you’d be isn’t the same as not being exactly where you need to be.

I suppose that sounds a bit like destiny or fate. Personally, I’m not too keen on the idea. I suppose I like to believe there is some sort of order within the chaos of the universe, so I guess I do believe we all have roles to fill. I just think there’s a lot more personal choice involved than the idea of fate allows for. But fate does seem to play a role in dwarven culture, and I suppose that makes sense. After all, the Earthen were created for specific jobs. It is a bit disturbing to think about. Unless, I suppose, you’re perfectly comfortable with the idea that someone already decided for you exactly what you should be and do, and that there’s really no way you can mess that up because your life path will self-correct in very painful and discouraging ways if you don’t follow it willingly.

Brann, I can’t be comfortable with that idea. But let’s not think too much about it right now, aye?

I do have to wonder what the original plan the Titans had was. As much as Azeroth has drifted from that plan, it seems some things haven’t strayed too far from how they were designed. Dwarves still dig - troggs, too - and gnomes still tinker. Most trolls still fight among themselves for dominance, and elves just do it with more fashion sense. (Know what you call a bunch of forest trolls dressed up in mooncloth robes? Darnassus.) And you… well, you set off on a journey that keeps leading to secrets about the origins of life on Azeroth and the Old Gods.

Watcher Creteus, who was so careful not to give any information he shouldn’t no matter how much he liked someone, decided not just that your reasons for wanting the keystone were acceptable, but he said, “I believe this dwarf may be the entity for which the keystone was created.” I was right there beside you while you put the pieces together to create the keystone. The voice speaking sounded very much like there had been a series of tests in place to make sure it didn’t end up in the wrong hands, and you passed those tests.



You want to know what I think? Silly question… I’m just going to tell you whether you want to know or not. I think you get blamed for a lot of “button pushing” that might have been done anyway, but gone smoother, had things gone according to the plan of the Titans. I don’t think it’s some odd glitch or limitation in the machinery that made the system call you “Brannbronzan”. I think the system was programmed to call you that because that was supposed to be your name. Or maybe it was supposed to be some other type of official designation, and with all the changes that happened over time it ended up being your name instead. I think Creteus was right… you were always the one this information was intended for. I just don’t necessarily think this is how the Titans expected you to get it.

I’m betting none of this information was ever meant to be lost. Restricted? Probably. The Titans seem to be fond of that. But I’m guessing it was supposed to be known by someone, and passed down in an appropriate manner. Instead, the information was lost from conscious memory when the Earthen went into their deep hibernation and woke up as dwarves. Your intended role is still, for lack of a better term, “programmed” into you, though.

Yeah, that’s edging a bit closer to destiny and fate again than I’m really okay with. And I don’t have a pint or seven on hand to make it easier for myself.

Look, here’s what I’m saying. Yes, you’ve pushed a few buttons that maybe no one else would have pushed. But we always got some good answers and some even better questions out of it, and nothing too big has blown up. Elves, on the other hand… well, the Mages’ Society for Welcoming the Burning Legion wasn’t based in Ironforge, now was it?

You managed to convince the Nerubians who were not undead not to kill the rest of us… to fight alongside us against the Scourge. I wonder how many adventurers don’t realize that we could have gotten to Northrend and immediately become science experiments and anatomy studies for the Nerubians.

Your coin is the only one I’ve ever fished up in Dalaran that didn’t have a wish connected to it. Just a simple statement. “Brann Bronzebeard was here.” I want to be so at peace with myself one day that I can toss in a coin but not make a wish.

Yes, it’s true that folks often laugh at you. They say you’re lost. They say you can’t resist pushing buttons. That everywhere you go, an Old God turns up. That you’re a menace to Azeroth because you blow things up. I think those folks are ignorant, jealous, or a little bit of both.

Have they never felt such a thirst for knowledge that they would go anywhere to find the well to drink from? Have they never had such a passion for their work that any price they paid was negligible when compared to the rewards? Have they never had the confidence to ignore well-intentioned warnings and just go ahead and do what every fiber of their being told them was right? Are they so busy just trying to get where they want to be that they cannot risk the detour that is the real journey?

I fight every day not to be one of those people. Sadly, my world seems to be running short on heroes who will throw well-intentioned but misguided caution to the wind and just go out there and live! We’re becoming a fearful people who trade personal joy and fulfillment for safe, structured lives that experts say we’re supposed to live, exactly the way experts say we’re supposed to live them.

Sometimes we need a reminder that deviation from the plan isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

That’s how I ended up wanting to follow you into Ulduar for personal reasons.

I was in Dalaran one night and heard Rhonin talking to you, and… well, I jumped out of a window to follow you. It’s okay. I was a druid, and catform always lands on its feet. I stood there and watched the two of you send the reply code, and I heard Rhonin say this:

"Algalon was sent here to judge the fate of our world. He found a planet whose races had deviated from the titans’ blueprints. A planet where not everything had gone according to plan. Cold logic deemed our world not worth saving. Cold logic however does not account for the power of free will! It’s up to each of us to prove this is a world worth saving! That our lives… our lives are worth living!"

It’s been a hard few years, Brann. Parts of me are breaking down long before they should, and other parts are breaking down in ways that aren’t normal. It’s often painful to be me, physically and emotionally. The thing that keeps me going somedays is insisting to myself that “different” is NOT “wrong”. That it’s okay when I can’t explain to someone why I have the idea I do, or why I can be so damned smart in one way and so damned useless in another way. Why I am not broken just because I can’t do some of the basic things people think everyone can do. That maybe I’m not following “the plan”, but that doesn’t mean I’m a waste. That I have so much to offer, and if other people don’t want those gifts then I will just enjoy them myself by being the me that I am!

So I cried when Rhonin made that speech. And I decided that the most important thing to me was to see Ulduar myself.

It almost happened once. I asked for it for my birthday, but then everyone sort of forgot and made other plans. My husband took me in there anyway, though. I have a picture here. Remember us? I bet you’d remember us if you saw Flame Leviathan crushing that one seige vehicle we were attacking him with.



You saw us again not too long ago. We made it past Flame Leviathan that time, but no further. It turns out gear and levels of experience with high-stress combat environments may explain why one feral druid can get through Ulduar alone, but two other feral druids can’t manage it together. We tried, though. We tried hard. And I’m sorry I’ll never turn in the reply code myself, but I’m not sorry we tried.

You see, I’m leaving Azeroth. It’s time for my path to take me somewhere else. But I do not regret the time I spent here. I learned things I needed to know about myself. I did some crazy things I’ve been told you “can’t do”, and even did some of them successfully. I followed your trail all over the world and, in many ways, found myself.

Thank you, Prince Brann.

Travel safe. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.

- Fizzy

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Dear Sergra Darkthorn…

You weren’t very nice to me the first time I met you. I guess I just assumed the Barrens takes it toll on someone, and the Crossroads especially. There was none of that “Northern Barrens/Southern Barrens” stuff back then. You got to the Barrens and you were going to be there a while! Nothing but big stretches of quillboars, centaurs, quillboars, thunder lizards, and quillboars. From the gates into Ashenvale to the Great Lift it was Barrens, Barrens, and more Barrens. And some guy named [Local Defense] constantly spamming that the Crossroads was being attacked.

I wrote it off as you having an attitude problem. I was one of the Forsaken so attitude problems were neither new to me, nor a mark against you. Maybe you hated being in the Barrens. Maybe you hated being at the Crossroads. Maybe you hated everybody who wasn’t an orc. Maybe you just hated everybody. You were giving quests, and I was giving zhevra hooves or whatever it was you wanted. We had a business arrangement that worked, and eventually I left the area. No harm, no foul.

You practically welcomed me with open arms when I saw you again! Of course, I looked a bit different by then. Instead of the skeletal body, purple boar tails, and shadowbolts, I was a pretty curvy cow with moonfire. You chatted with me about how difficult it was to be a woman in the Horde and greeted me as a sister. I smiled and nodded, then went to get those zhevra hooves for you.

I never knew it could be so difficult to be a woman in the Horde until you told me. Which is not to say that I started experiencing it after that, or even that I started noticing I’d been experiencing it all along. No, it was never any more difficult for me than it was for anyone else, from what I saw. (Sometimes it was more difficult for me, but that was due to things that had nothing to do with the Horde, my gender, or even the existence of Azeroth. Strange things tied up in a realm known as Real Life.) But I had an awareness now that not every woman’s experience was like mine. Maybe it was different for us because you were an orc and I was a Tauren. Maybe… well, “maybe” a lot of things. We’ll never know. But apparently your experiences as a woman were different from mine. And both were valid. I didn’t need to be treated unfairly for it to be true that you were. The things you said did not change the truth of my experiences, but did give me an awareness of the experiences of others. Thank you for that.

The odd thing is that I’ve seen people say since then that it’s well-known that you treat men and women differently when meeting them. That you’re warm and friendly to your Horde sisters, but cold toward the men. That’s the way you’re always described… your reactions to adventuring heroes are divided along gender lines.

I was female both times.

It’s been assumed that you greeted me the first time the same way you greet men. Maybe you couldn’t tell the difference with so little flesh left clinging to my bones? You did not recognize a Forsaken as one of your Horde sisters. I guess we truly were Forsaken.

You taught me much, Sergra Darkthorn. You taught me to survive the Barrens. You taught me that life in the Horde is harder for some women than others. And you taught me that the Forsaken really had no people… no tribe, no kin… besides each other. My time spent training with you was very enlightening.

For the Horde!

The Purple-Haired Warlock / The Shifty Cow

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Dear Muradin Bronzebeard…

I’d suggest having a mug of ale when you read this. It’s not bad news or anything. I just suggest you always have a mug of ale around.

I won’t waste your time mincing words… you’ve never been my favorite Bronzebeard. It’s nothing personal against you, and I assure you I’ve got the greatest respect for all you’ve done over the years. I reckon it’s pretty much a case of what you’ve said about yourself. “My older brother Magni is king of the dwarves. My younger brother┬áBrann is a renowned explorer. If I didn’t kick so much ass, I’d feel a tad awkward.”

You might just have Azeroth’s worst case of “middle child syndrome”.

I used to think you were a paladin. They don’t tend to stand out very much in my mind unless one of them goes above and beyond the call of duty. Or, you know, ends up in league with a frozen orc, kills his own father, digs up his dead horse, and tries to take over the world. That’ll make somebody stand out in my mind. Not that I’m advising you try it.

It was actually learning about Arthas that corrected my notion of yourself as a warrior of the Light. I figure there are many ways to be doing the Light’s work, but I put aside the mental image of you swinging the Light and replaced it with one of you swinging whatever the hell you could get your hands on. Or just your fists, if it came to that. I learned that you were the one who taught Arthas how to fight dirty. “Dirty” by human standards, anyway. Between yourself and myself, I think it’s just a matter of being practical.

It’s not your fault, you know? That he turned out the way he did, I mean. Knowledge is a tool. Sometimes it’s knowledge about how to fight, and sometimes it’s knowledge about where a magic sword is. But it’s a tool… just like a hammer. If I put a hammer in some bloody git’s hand and show him how to use the forge and what have you, it’s still not my fault if he chooses to craft naked elf statues instead of something useful. You gave Arthas knowledge, but you didn’t force him to use it the way he did.

I wish I could have known you before all that business started. It seems like your tale always gets told in some way that makes you look like little more than a supporting character in Arthas’s life story. You’re a Bronzebeard! And you were there with the Alliance forces during the Second War! You’ve probably got a lot of tales you could tell, and I imagine most of them shouldn’t be told until after the little one’s have gone to bed for the night.

It seems like you’d have time to tell those tales now that you’ve come home, but the truth is I just haven’t been able to bring myself to talk to you very often. The first time I saw you after the Cataclysm, you asked me, “What brings you to Ironforge, friend?” That shook me up a wee bit.

Are you even aware of how much you sound like your brother? I’ve wondered sometimes if you do it on purpose, or if you don’t even realize it. King Magni used to ask, “What brings you to Ironforge?”

I thought it might just be coincidence, but I listened to you greet other visitors. “How can the Council of Three Hammers assist you?” “Welcome to our home beneath the mountain.”

Even as you were still speaking, I could hear King Magni in my mind. “How can the dwarves help you?” “What do you seek within the mountain?”

I might be out of line here, but it wouldn’t be the first time, so I’m going to offer you some advice. Don’t try to be one of your brothers. And don’t kick yourself for not being them, either. The world is only allowed one Magni Bronzebeard, and I know folks who’d say one Brann Bronzebeard is more than enough. Only you can be Muradin Bronzebeard.

I don’t know if you ever read Brann’s reports about the Ulduar complex or not. I was there with him for some of the discoveries he made in Northrend. The Titans’ computer system knew who he was. It was expecting him. One of the Watchers said he believed your brother was the person who was meant to have access to the information. Now, I don’t know how much you know about how the Titans set things up, but they don’t strike me as the kind of folks who’d say, “Oh, it’s alright, he’s a good guy.” You have to be a very specific guy who is already cleared for things before anybody says, “Show it to him.”

My point here is this… the dwarven people may have changed quite a bit since the Titans first made the Earthen, but I don’t think it’s been so much of a change that your purpose is lost. I think you exist because it was in Khaz’goroth’s plan for you to exist. There was a place in the plan for a Magni, and for a Brann, and also for a Muradin.

If the Titans had wanted you to be Magni or Brann, they would have made you Magni or Brann. You’re Muradin. Be Muradin!

Give the world a better tale to tell about you than one that always ends up with Arthas doing something stupid.

For Khaz Modan!

- Fizzy Stouthammer

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Dear Archmage Malin…

I met you once. You sent me to Refuge Point to look into the missing items for Archmage Trelane. I’m not really sure about that Skuerto guy you sent me to. I got the feeling Gerrig Bonegrip is something of an “associate” of his, and there was some trouble with some stone shards and… Well, none of that is important now. We recovered the things you sent me for.

While I only met you the one time, I’ve walked past you many times. And then there was the jumping off the ramp just a little behind you, crossing over through the brushes to get on the sidewalk in front of the Blue Recluse, and hopefully managing to get out of the area without having to meet your eyes. Yeah… that was me.

It’s time I told you the truth. I didn’t just find the letter from your daughter. I was the one who killed her.

It was tearing me apart to know what I’d done when I found that letter! I managed to accept that this wasn’t my fault, but a consequence of the war the blue flight started. I had no way of knowing your daughter was working to sabotage them. She played her part very well.

I’ve sometimes asked myself if she really could have killed me first. To tell you the truth, I’ve never been very good at combat. I’m more of a scholar and explorer. I was worn down from the fight and it was a really close call. So I’ve wondered if her death wasn’t part of her sabotaging them.

I can’t accept that, though. I won’t allow myself to ease my own conscience more by making assumptions. Yes, there was a war going on. Yes, the wrong people die in wars. No, we had no reason to believe she was one of the wrong people until seeing that letter. Yes, the only way we could get the letter was if she died. These things are all true, but I won’t read any more than that into it just so I sleep a little better at night.

But what I really haven’t been able to live with is the letter you sent me. Knowing they only told you I found her letter. Knowing that every time I walk past you in Stormwind you can look right at me and not know what I did. Knowing that you thanked me and expressed your gratitude.

If you have it in your heart to forgive me, I will accept your forgiveness. If you can’t, I won’t blame you and I won’t ask you to change what’s in your heart.

I can live with being blamed by a grieving father who knows the truth.

I cannot live with the gratitude of a grieving father who has been allowed to believe a lie.

Whether you forgive me or not, I will continue to pray that the Light eases your suffering.

Light bless you,

a former mage

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Dear David Trias…

I made this trip out to Deathknell just to deliver this letter to you. There’s really nothing else for me here. I remember Deathknell before the Cataclysm. Before the Val’kyr. Before there were girls who’d take one look in a mirror and went running around shrieking in horror. Before Darnell. I remember it being a much quieter place. It’s got a bit more life in it these days, depending on one’s definition of “life”.

It’s still mostly a place to get yourself together and then just get going, though. They didn’t even bother to rebuild anything like they did down the road in Brill. Some things just don’t change. The church is still there. The woods are still full of wolves and spiders. You still stand in the corner and keep your secrets.

Of course you keep secrets. You don’t get to be a highly skilled rogue without knowing where the bodies are and how to keep your mouth shut about them. I wonder sometimes about the secrets you might be keeping. You see, I couldn’t help but notice your name. I know another man named Trias with a similar “professional background” as yourself.

That’s an awfully strange coincidence, don’t you think? I’ve noticed there are a great number of things on Azeroth that turn out not to be coincidence if you really dig around. Family names, for example. It didn’t matter how much digging I did, though, I couldn’t turn up enough information on you or Elling Trias to find out for sure.

Imagine that… not being able to find a decent amount of background information on a couple of rogues. Trust me, Trias, I’m nowhere near as dumb as I look.

I came up with a story that entertained me, but I’m still waiting to find out if it’s true or not. I haven’t given up.

Don’t think that leaving means I won’t keep an ear to the ground. Or that I won’t still have eyes watching what happens in the shadows. If Chris Metzen tweets the name Trias, I’ll know. If even a rumor of lore revelations related to the Stormwind cheese shop show up in a blue post, I’ll see it. If there are secrets that you and Elling Trias are keeping, Blizzard won’t keep them for you forever.

Sometimes staying in the shadows doesn’t keep you from attracting attention. Sometimes it makes you very interesting.

Signed,

The Cheese Rogue, aka Tilsit, aka Cheshireblue, aka Wensleydale

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Dear Gordo…

I don’t know if abominations can read. Maybe you can get someone at the Calston Estate to read this to you. On second thought, maybe you should ask someone traveling through. Adventurers are often eager to help if you can catch them before they’ve been told who they “should” and “shouldn’t” be helping.

You really put the fear of SOMETHING into me the first time I saw you! That was back before you had the Calston Estate to hang around at. Back when you used to just kind of wander around looking for gloom weed. I hadn’t been to the Undercity yet. I was still on my way from Deathknell to Brill, and you were the first abomination I ever saw.

I was certain you were going to attack us. I was also certain you were going to win the fight. Look how big you are! And you’ve got multiple weapons! All I had was an imp I couldn’t control and a rogue. I couldn’t control the rogue, either.

You didn’t want to hurt us, though. Neither did the abominations in the Undercity when I finally got there. By the time I finally encountered an abomination who DID want to hurt me, I’d learned to understand your kind a bit better.

It breaks my heart to know what you are.

I don’t just mean what you’re built from. That’s tragic and horrible, yes, and something that never should have been done in its own right. What I mean is that it breaks my heart to know your kind have been built to be used as weapons even though I’m not sure I’ve met even one of you who has an actual desire to harm someone.

I prefer asking for directions in the Undercity from the abomination who walks around the area where the auctioneers are. He’s always so friendly and gives me a bit of gossip about whoever he’s sending me off to.

I guess you probably don’t know Gory. He’s one of your kind. I met him in the Western Plaguelands after the Cataclysm. He just showed up one day on a farm out there and wanted to help. He’s very good at helping with combat training. The fighting is just a big game to him.

That’s what it is to all of you, as near as I can tell. A big game. You may have heard adventurers and heroes talk about fighting Patchwerk. I never faced him in Naxxramas, but I saw him on Acherus. All he wanted was to play, and to do a good job with what he’d been told to do so he could go home again. His missed Naxxramas… it was his home.

Northrend was full of horrors, but my time in Zul’Drak hit me hardest. There were undead there, including those like you, who were still working for the Lich King. I met an abomination while I was disguised as a ghoul and he was kind to me. He was worried about why I was all alone and tried to help me make friends with some of the other ghouls.

Nobody really talks much about that. They talk about the pain of having to fight your own people when the Lich King raised them and twisted them into his undead slaves. They don’t talk so much about having to fight beings who don’t really understand that it’s not a game for the rest of us… it’s a fight for the survival of our world… and would be just as happy to help us make friends as to put a meat hook in us and drag us around.

It makes sense to approach a being like you with a big dose of caution. No, you didn’t intend any harm for me. But neither did any other abomination I met.

I love you, Gordo. You are a kind being with a gentle heart. Please remember that little fleshy and bony adventurers don’t handle rough play very well. They can get seriously hurt, and sometimes that can’t be fixed. Then they can’t play anymore. Protect the little adventurers, okay?

And please don’t forget… you’re looking for DOOM weed. Not gloom weed. DOOM weed!

Hugs and kisses,

One of the Little Adventurers

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Dear Captured Mountaineer in Brill…

I’m not writing this to ask you to forgive me. Forgiveness is something between yourself and the Light. Or maybe yourself and Khaz’goroth. Maybe yourself, Khaz’goroth, and the Light can sit down and work it out over a keg or two of the Barleybrews’ finest.

Oh, yes… I know the Barleybrews. I know about Khaz’goroth. I wasn’t always one of the Forsaken. I just started out that way.

I’d been told the Forsaken were undead who weren’t zombies… that they had free will and were more or less just “undead people”. I’d been told about what Arthas did to them, and especially what he’d done to Sylvanas Windrunner. I’d been told they’d found a home in the Horde once they regained their free will because the Alliance had turned their backs on those who had once been their friends and neighbors. I was given the impression the Forsaken were an honorable people who just had the misfortune of being undead.

I wasn’t lied to. Not really. The person who told me all of this had been lied to. They thought they were telling me the truth. And can you really blame me for wanting to be one of those people? It’s almost dwarven in a way… why let a little thing like being dead stop you when there’s still a world that needs saving?

I guess you were my first indication that something wasn’t quite right.

I didn’t know it then. I didn’t know it until I got to Tarren Mill. When I thought back from there, though, you were my first clue. Your death never sat well with me.

They could have tested the plague on you in any number of ways. Held you down and poured it down your throat, sprayed it on you. But what did they do? They sent me down into the basement with a drink for you. Trickery wasn’t necessary. It just gave them something to laugh about.

I didn’t know anything about the dwarves of Ironforge at that time. I didn’t know anything about the Alliance other than they were almost constantly at war with the Horde and neither side was clearly “good guys” or “bad guys”… it all depended on which side you chose. I didn’t even know what Ironforge looked like then, so I certainly couldn’t have told you about the statue of King Anvilmar or how his death led to the War of the Three Hammers.

Nowadays, I could keep you sitting in the Stonefire Tavern night after night drinking ale and listening to me tell the tales of the dwarven people. Then, you were just some Alliance dude the Forsaken had captured.

Still… your death wasn’t right. It wasn’t okay. I cried. I didn’t know I’d have to do anything like that. I thought I had to take all the quests, and even once I knew I didn’t I just wasn’t okay with skipping the “bad” ones. I wanted the whole story, and that meant doing the quests.

I thought you’d be gone in Cataclysm. I guess you don’t really get to see what’s going on outside of Brill, but there’s a quest hub between there and Deathknell now. There’s a very similar quest in that spot. I had to feed a pumpkin to a Scarlet Crusader. Not just any pumpkin.

It didn’t kill him immediately like the drink did with you. It turned him into a ghoul and then he just sort of… fell apart.

I wasn’t really okay with that - not with all the history of both the Forsaken and the Scarlet Crusade that I know now -and wished I could have given him a clean death. But I also hoped it meant I wouldn’t find you in Brill again.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Like I said, I won’t ask you to forgive me. But wherever you are now… whether you’ve become one with the stone again, have joined with the Light, or some sort of combination of the two… you made a difference. You didn’t die for nothing. You taught me something I needed to learn about myself. See, stories aren’t always just to entertain. There are lessons to be learned in them that are no less valid just because the things you learned them from never really happened. It’s part of the magic of a good tale. I guess you knew that already. It’s kind of an important part of your culture.

You did Ironforge proud, Mountaineer.

Sincerely,

One Who Knows Better Now

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Dear Blood Elf paladin on a motorcycle…

I’m supposed to be writing letters to lore characters, NPCs, etc… not other players. I KNOW you were another player, but you’ve become as important in my memory as any character Blizzard put in Silverpine Forest. I can’t leave without saying goodbye to you.

I really don’t expect that you’d remember me. I was a Forsaken warlock with purple boartails traveling through Silverpine with a Forsaken rogue who had a spiky mohawk. We were low level and a Son of Arugal had already killed me once. We were approaching the mine with all the worgen in it very cautiously, having just spent quite a bit of time killing the ones outside. I wasn’t convinced we could survive doing this quest. Neither was the rogue, to be honest. We were determined to make our way through the zone and get to Shadowfang Keep, though, because he’d told me that’s where the best robes I’d get for a while could drop.

I really didn’t want to go in the mine and be torn apart by worgen. I felt safer out in the open, where I could run, than cornered between a stone wall and a bunch of sharp teeth. I hadn’t learned to manage my demons yet and got nervous everytime I couldn’t see around the voidwalker.

Then you rode up. I couldn’t even see what your level was! The idea of someone being so much higher in level than us that it only showed as question marks was really impressive to me. And I didn’t know where that motorcycle came from, but it looked amazing!

You invited us to group up, and we went into the mine together. I just saw a bunch of dead worgen. I’ve been told they were alive for about half a second before you got to them. We looted the quest item, and you gave us each some supplies and escorted us back out of the mine, killing the worgen that had respawned. You asked if we’d be fine from there, told us good luck in the game, and rode off.

That was when I decided I wanted a motorcycle! I eventually got one. It was a couple of years later, on a different server and a different faction. But I got my motorcycle!

More importantly, you set an example for me. Because of you, I’ve helped just about everyone who has ever asked. I’ve flown across Northrend to help someone kill a quest mob because they had no one else to ask and were whispering strangers. I’ve helped new death knights tackle things in Hellfire Peninsula. I’ve held off other mobs in an area so a hunter could tame a pet.

My husband (the rogue) told me you were probably going back and doing low level quests for Loremaster. Because of the example you set, I’ve been mindful of anyone who is around who is the appropriate level for a zone when I go back to finish old quests.

A level 80 priest told me toward the end of Wrath that she remembered me because I’d given her the rest of the money for her first mount when she didn’t have enough. I don’t really remember that, but it sounds like something I’d do because there’s always been that voice in the back of my head when I see someone who needs help that says, “Remember the blood elf in Silverpine?”

I don’t know if you still play WoW. It has been a few years since you came roaring up out of nowhere and saved us. The mine changed in Cataclysm, along with the rest of the zone. There are still worgen in it. There are also a bunch of Forsaken NPCs, and the quest is pretty much a scripted event where one of the Deathguards saves you. You’re only ever in danger of dying in the story. You don’t fight the worgen anymore.

I half expected you to be there. It’s silly, I know. My husband and I rolled up new Forsaken to see the new quests with. I was a hunter and he was a priest. Part of me expected that, any second, a motorcycle would come speeding up to the mine with a blood elf paladin riding it.

One day I’ll forget about the Deathguard in Cataclysm and the only way I’ll be able to remember the mine is the way it was before. Of the two people who have saved me, you were the one who didn’t have to. You were the one who made an impact on how I played the game.

Thank you.

Al diel shala.


With great thanks,

The Purple-Haired Warlock

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Dear Reader…

When I started writing Precious and Soft, I did so thinking I wouldn’t have to change blogs again. I already know I love having a bear as a pet when I play a hunter. If I continued playing a druid I would be a bear. If I switched to a Pandaren… c’mon! I could pick ANY class available to the Pandaren and still be a bear! Bears have been a part of nearly everything I’ve done in WoW, in one way or another. A bear blog would give me room to talk about almost anything and not feel I was drifting too far from the theme of the blog.

I prepared myself for change coming. I just didn’t prepare myself for the specific change that has come. I didn’t prepare myself for walking away from WoW.

I’m not going to discuss how I got here. It’s about me and what I need. It’s not about burn-out (in fact, I don’t WANT to walk away - I’ve accepted that I NEED to), and discussing what could be changed that would keep me playing would likely result in further unnecessary pain for me. The point is that playing WoW has become a much more negative than positive experience for me, and I have put as much effort into changing that as I reasonably can. At some point, I had to accept that a relaxation activity that causes consistent pain and stress but only occasionally rewards the effort I put into it isn’t something I should keep doing.

I am not ragequitting, and I’m not going to say I’ll never be back. If I do come back, though, it’s likely to be a very different Azeroth by then. I’m leaving in the middle of a lot of unfinished business. I only have one personal regret - that I’ll never turn in the reply code from Ulduar. Most of my “unfinished business” is a matter of not seeing how various stories turn out. It’s always been the story that mattered most to me.

I’m subscribed until October. I’ll be using at least some of that time to say my goodbyes. I’ll do some favorite questlines one last time, probably. I’m so close to getting Pebble that I’d be sad if I left without finishing that. And I’ll be writing letters here to say goodbye to the characters I’ve spent the last few years getting to know. The idea was partially inspired by Letters from Northrend and Letters from a Shattered World by Rades.

If I unfollowed you on Twitter recently, it’s because I went through my list and unfollowed the people I couldn’t think of as anyone other than “WoW player”. I simply need to limit things while I adjust, and there’s going to be plenty of talk about MoP from people I am still following. The unfollows were completely about doing what’s best for myself right now.

And now it’s time to say goodbye. To make my way around the world one last time, and to stop at every mailbox along the way to deliver a letter or two. You’re welcome to come with me if you wish… the chopper has a sidecar. I won’t be sticking to the road, though, and I can tell you right now this is nothing more than the long way to a tavern. At the end of the ride, there’s nothing waiting except a mug of ale and a soft bed. But it’s never been about where I was going. It was always about how I was getting there.

Sincerely,

Fizzy/ Glorwynn / Magritte