09 December 2011

Goblin Journal: Paladins in the Plaguelands

The first thing I noticed across the bridge separating the two plaguelands was the stench. I mean, the western plaguelands are not particularly rosy, but the mostly-reclaimed areas are tolerable, maybe even pleasant. The eastern ones, less so. They are brown. I was gonna say dead, but that's too generous. They are rotten. There's a rank humidity in the air only slightly alleviated by the winter chill. The grass practically squishes when you walk over it. Okay, gonna stop now. I'm grossing myself out.

Anyway, the Cenarion Circle druids recommended that I seek my fortune traveling with a worgen woman on her caravan. Fiona works her way around the plaguelands, buying and selling her wares throughout the season. I was lucky to catch her as she stopped at the western border of the plaguelands, on the Thorondril River. She was reloading her stock, and I signed on for the journey. She seemed easy going enough, once I got past the face of gleaming-sharp teeth. I thought about talking shop, but she was so busy that she sent me off to collect her other passengers, a pair of gung-ho paladins.

I found one of them killing spiders nearby. Tarenar was a tall, leggy blood elf, but overall tolerable, for a paladin. And a blood elf. The other fellow was a bit harder to locate - I tracked him all the way north along the coast, made easier to follow by the long path of still-twitching spider bodies. He had gotten himself into trouble and was trussed up in a web tighter than a debtor behind on his dues. I cut him loose and discovered a dwarf only a little taller than me. I practiced my Common with him until we reached Fiona's caravan, and then it was time to push off.

Turns out Tarenar's Common was better than mine, and he launched into an animated conversation with Gidwin - that's the dwarf - as soon as we were moving. I gave up trying to follow after a few minutes. Talk about an odd couple! Fiona knew a little bit of Orcish from her trading, so we cobbled together a conversation after some effort.

Our first stop was an outpost for the Argent Crusade. They've purified some of the old watchtowers in the region, and you can practically feel the slime in the air dissipate as you enter the sacred ground. After a lively haggle, I convinced Fiona to inexpensively loan me a trinket from her caravan so I could quest easier while she did business with the outpost.

The paladin pair (I had taken to calling them Storky and Stumpy in my head by this point) took off just as soon as they could, practically frothing at the chance to kill more Scourge. I followed them for a while, but ended up doing some odd jobs in the area instead.

I returned to the tower just as Fiona was getting ready to leave. I don't think she would have left without me, but I'm glad I showed up at that time all the same. I couldn't imagine wandering through the putrid zone all by my onesies!

We followed what was left of the old royal road and for the most part avoided the sickly things that terrorize the forests, but it got a bit dicey when we went through Corin's Crossing. They tell me it used to be a wealthy trading town, but now it's little more than dilapidated houses and enterprising Scourge. They set upon us just as soon as we passed the first house, and to no one's surprise the paladin pair leaped into the fray and smote holy justice on everything they could reach. For my part, I climbed on top of the caravan and rained ice on the monsters to slow them and keep them from pursuing us.

Fiona was much easier to barter with after that little scrape. Who said brawling ain't good business sense? Her good mood also meant that she graciously translated what Storky and Stumpy were saying for my benefit. They talk big, and bicker constantly, but they're clearly good friends! Even Fiona looks after them, even though she's only just met them.

We stopped at the next tower, much to the paladin pair's distress. Fiona wanted to recruit another paying passenger, so I barked our caravan around for her and stumbled upon a wrinkled old human. He's a member of the Argent Crusade, and told me he'd sign on if I killed some of the plagued beasts that were threatening the road. While I was doing that, however, both Storky and Stumpy ran off to Light's Hope Chapel! Only me, Fiona, and this Argus fellow continued on in the wagon.

Argus spoke fluent Orcish, so we had a nice chat about the Crusade. He didn't try to sell it to me, not really, and I suspect they want only truly devoted members in their ranks, but I found myself impressed with his speech anyway. When we arrived at Light's Hope, I headed to the Chapel and met up with the paladins. Coasting on their collective excitement, I pledged to help out the Crusade, and before long we were killing Scourge in a nearby village.

Things went into the red when Tarenar wanted to take a detour. I didn't think anything of it and went along, but when we returned from our expedition Gidwin had ran on ahead, alone and into the heart of a Scourge town! We followed him, but all we could find were signs of a struggle and Gidwin's abandoned prayerbook. The look on Tarenar's face...he looked like he'd lost a fortune. We met Fiona and Argus at the nearest tower, and Argus advised us to search the Plaguewood and Stratholme. Fiona whipped the horses up and we raced to the tower on the edge of the Plaguewood.

Tarenar argued with Fiona in Common, berated himself in Orcish, and muttered to himself in Thalassian so quietly that we couldn't hope to understand. He vaulted off the wagon before we had even arrived at the watchtower and tore into the trees, looking for Scourge to slaughter. At Argus' suggestion, I searched the nearby Scourge outposts and managed to beat some information out of the engineers I found there. Then I went into the Plaguewood, looking for Tarenar.

If I thought just being in the Plaguelands was stomach-turningly disgusting, the Plaguewood was worse. The stench of rotting is like a physical barrier and half the time I felt as if I were slogging through soup. The plants are striped with mold and beaded with a thick, blood-like sweat. My boots may never be clean. I followed the path to Stratholme, trying to avoid Scourge patrols that might sound an alarm. Tarenar was just outside the bridge leading to the overrun city, surrounded by an impressive mountain of skeletons and dessicated flesh. He looked torn between rage and despair and couldn't stop pacing, so I told him what I had learned right away.

He took off, and together we tracked the abductors to a slaughterhouse. Inside, we found Gidwin, looking tired and hungry and miserable, and the Baroness Anastari, about to perform the atrocious ritual that would raise him as a death knight. We made quick work of her, or rather, Tarenar did, looking everything like a paladin should with his holy light and flashing sword. The Baroness didn't stand a chance. When her specter faded into nothingness, Tarenar ripped off the ropes holding Gidwin and swept the unprotesting dwarf off the altar and into his arms. Gidwin, who was still pretty weak, just patted Tarenar's back and kicked his legs feebly where they hung above the ground.

The scene was comically incongruous, but also oddly intimate, so I silently excused myself and met them outside. Gidwin was walking very slowly, having been marched to the Plaguewood and held without food, but between me and Tarenar we got him safely back to the tower. Fiona knelt to hug him - I don't suppose she can lift a full grown dwarf in plate mail. Frankly, neither can I.

Tarenar packed Gidwin into the wagon soon after, insisting that Gidwin needed to rest at Light's Hope. If he looked like he lost a fortune before, now he looked like he had made back triple his investment. Argus asked me to escort him to the final tower for his repairwork, so Gidwin lent me his hearthstone so I could return quickly to Light's Hope and meet up with them.


  1. Always a treat! I really love the easy flow that your fiction has :)

    The screenshots really go well with this one. Keep them coming!

    Also.. If you haven't seen I made sure to mention you in my blogs Anniversary Post - http://shatteredbeginnings.blogspot.com/2011/12/one-year-has-passed.html

    - Jamin :)

  2. I agree that the pics go well with the story. Remind to tell Draccus!

  3. Very enjoyable story and well done! Looking forward to more :)

  4. Great story & glad to see EPL still has that certain special quest/story line going on. Really need to replay that area on alt soon.

    Yes, I see how wonderful the pictures added to the telling of the tale. Just curious as to how & where would be good places to interject pictures along with the Saga's postings.

  5. @Jamin: Oh thanks! I'll go look right away. I'm a bit behind on my feed reader at the moment >_>;;;

    @Navi & Solitudeone: Thanks :D

    @Draccus: I think they really improved the overall storyline for the plaguelands and I had a great time questing there! In general, when I quest, I take pictures of funny dialogue, NPCs I interact with, and any interesting or memorable quests/locations. Then when I write the entry, I see which people and places I address and which screenshots might fit to illustrate them.