I spun at the voice from behind me.

“Who’s there?” I cried into the jungle darkness.

I am here. You hold me in your satchel.

“Who- what-“ I scrambled through my satchel. Wands, mana gems, rations, bandages, Lakka’s ashes. Lakka’s ashes.

“You – it can’t be-“ I stared at the ashes, feeling sweat trickle along my neck in the jungle heat. I reached down gently, grasped the case, pulled it out of the bag. It thrummed with energy.

Oh, it can. The magic of Rukhmar transcends death, child. Especially when there is… Unfinished business.

The case thrummed harder, hotter. I set it down on the floor.

“I- I don’t understand…”

In time.

The case shone and light beamed out, bouncing off the trees, their tainted leaves being burnt away. The light cast shadows over me, until I could see the figure form within it – thin, tall, proud. As the light faded away, she was left there – Lakka.

I scrambled back, falling onto my hands and feet.

“You’re supposed to be dead! I saw you die!” I hissed.

And I am. I can no more effect this plane now than the High Sage could.

“Then why? Why are you here?”

That is for us to find out. You were at the council with the emissaries. The arakkoa have a new god. Asghar dares not speak its name. The Conclave have plans, child. Plans for the Legion, and this world. Plans neither you or I factor into.

“Plans? But we all have plans.”

Make no mistake. You are involved now, more involved than you know. The future of this world is far from decided. The future of my people even less so. I could not see how blind Sethe made me – how blind he has made my people, how blind the gods of Arak have made all arakkoa.

The future is coming. It is fast and bright and beautiful. It is dark and clutching and terrifying. It is everything and nothing. It must be shaped. And as I am beyond help, it must be you to do so.

The arakkoa sat down in front of me. Unlike before, the fel taint was gone from her wings, the maddened red eyes now clear and bronze, any sign of the curse absent.

Let me tell you of my people.

Light’s Blessing

Look at the sky above you, child. The stars are bright and eternal, but between them lies darkness. The stars burst, one by one, brilliant sclera of light and matter. Then they reverse, fall into each other, great hungering holes of darkness.

Each of these stars can, will, turn to darkness eventually.

This is the nature of the universe. The light fades into the dark.

“But can’t the dark fade back?” I intoned.

Well, that depends on your perspective. Which is the natural state? Light, or darkness? The arakkoa swept her wing up and drew it across the sky. There is no natural state in a cycle. There is only change. The balance lies in these. Will every star collapse and begin consuming all around it until only void remains? Yes. Will every void be overpowered by matter and eject it all in a bright burst? Yes.

Our magic – arakkoan magic, Rukhmari magic, Apexis magic, whatever you call it – it all comes from this cycle. The Adherents push forth the Light from the stars and sun; the Outcasts push the darkness forth from shadow and void.

“So – for every magical action, there is a reaction?”

Lakka smiled. Now you are beginning to understand. Arakkoan history is a cycle. Each arakkoa feeds off others – they become so bright they must collapse, or so dark that they must burst. Only together do we balance.

“But this magic goes beyond suns and moons. They are drawing on the deepest magic of darkness.” I leant over the tower, the moon shimmering over the surface of the Pure Intent, the steel barrier cold on my fingers.

That is true. The Elder Twilight is beyond any dark magic the Outcasts have yet used. So you can see how it will go. They will create the largest darkness, and in turn you must bring forth the largest light.

“But how? Rukhmar is dead – or at least, no longer on this plane. What other light is there?”

The Sun Goddess has left this world, yes, child. But her feathers and her children remain. The sun still rises and sets. It will not be easy. But this world thrums with Rukhmar’s warmth. It is protected in the right ways. You can find those ways – your friend already found her Lash, though my own mistakes tainted it. The blessings are there – you just have to unlock them.

Lakka swept me up and suddenly we were no longer on the ship, but soaring above the ocean, the arakkoa’s red and orange plumage fluttering, illuminated by the moonlight. I laughed with glee as she drew close to the ocean’s surface, fish bubbling away, before pulling up, racing beyond where the ship had been.

Soon, we were passing over the rich forests of Talador, red and orange as Lakka herself, deep green glades separated by acres of forest. The sun was rising now, and as we passed over Auchindoun, I could see what she meant.

The Light isn’t just an Arakkoan invention, child. Nor was it just draenic. But you will not find any blessings of Rukhmar in the Apexis now that the Legion have scoured this world for them. But there is one race that has defied the Darkness for as long as your people have existed.

As the sun rose, columns grew to full height surrounding Auchindoun. They drew the sunlight into themselves, the crystals activated, and soon a glorious hum burst out over the forest. From each crystal came the song-prayer of the Draenei; from each column a beam of Light to match the sun. All drew inwards, towards the largest crystal atop the great dome of the city, until the prayer was all I could hear, pushed out further and brighter by every singing crystal, the prayer powering the very shield keeping the city safe.

Now, child.

Now, you see.

Finding Yourself

I recently read a post by the inimitable Alternative Chat, whose philosophy on the game is one I think everyone would do well to take in and think about at a time like this, when we’re not even a year into an expansion but already looking at its end. To sum up a little, Alternative asks a few questions:

Do you enjoy playing the game? Do you have solutions for the problems you see? Do you believe Blizzard can fix the problems?

If the answer to any of these is no, then what reasons do you still have to play?

It’s an interesting thing to consider, especially when weighing up whether or not it’s time to cut that sub for a bit, or indeed for good. I myself left for a three-month period at the tail end of 5.4; I, like many others, returned in the WoD hype, having heard nothing but good reviews of the levelling content.

And then endgame hit. So, going into the next expansion (especially if the price remains at its elevated level) I’m not sure I’ll be as quick off the mark. But this relies on the assumption that I’m going to quit, which… I don’t know. I never know. It took months of internal wrangling last time, because the fact of the matter is I, like so many others, am emotionally attached to this damn game. I have invested… a lot. No one wants to see their investment go down the pan, but… Maybe if that’s the case, we should stop seeing it that way.

Back in the heyday of Burning Crusade and Wrath, and even Cataclysm, I had far less anguish about taking breaks. If I felt burnout, or content was lacking, I stopped, I played other games, I returned when I felt the desire to play WoW again. I should probably take this attitude now; if I dislike the content, there’s nothing stopping me from returning if I want to.

The backlash to this is also understandable – how am I supposed to influence a game, critique it and try and ensure it’s what I want to be, if I’m not paying and playing? If Blizzard makes its future decisions based on what is most popular, and the things I like are not being represented because I am not there… Is it going to just get worse?

The ultimate answer to this is we just don’t know.

Burnout is inevitable, I think, whether or not you are casual or hardcore, and what you tell everyone else you are – my worry in recent expansions is that burnout appears to be coming to me faster each time; I don’t know if this exponential acceleration of burnout is due to a change in how I play or how I approach the game, whether the content is inherently more grindy or less fun, or indeed whether it’s just me getting old, though I hope not.

I play this game for story, for the occasional roleplaying experience, for the landscapes and the cinematics and the characters. WoD’s endgame has precious little via any avenue given my self-professed casual status – beyond the 16 garrison campaign mini-chains and the legendary quest, there is little to find.

So, beyond finishing the legendary chain, Hellfire Citadel LFR, and the 6.2 garrison campaigns, my future is unknown. I’m not sure if I’ll stay, but I’m not the only one dependent on my account – unless the powers that be (my relatives) decide they don’t want to continue trying to get past level 20, my sub will probably stay on.

Unfortunately, we are not Blizzard. We cannot say with any certainty whether sub numbers are carefully tracked, whether player activity is tracked, what activities are most popular – all we know is that shareholders are told subscriber numbers at a certain milestone, four times a year.

The only thing that will determine whether Blizzard cares for us beyond money is the future; I have long since abandoned hope, and indeed my playing WoD surprised myself. I was disappointed.

But it’s good to take some time, analyse what you want out of the game, whether you’re getting it, and why you’re still playing.

Like all good things, WoW is best taken in moderation. It’s good to make sure you’re getting satisfaction from other parts of life. Have a good summer, folks.

A Letter to Overseer Eirvainess

“Overseer Eirvainess,

I trust that this letter will make its way to you swiftly. I have despatched it to Cymre Brightblade, as she is the last known contact we knew you would be meeting. I hope that your journey to her has been danger-free and that you are all well – Ms Brightblade has kept us in Talador thus far informed of the fact that you survive.

Archon Kal’es has done rigorous testing since the opening of a permanent portal in the eastern island of Ashran, and the Research Dept is now confident in the communicators’ ability to work in Draenor. We have relocated to Talador and have brought adequate supplies, though it is recommended that the Convocation move to Ashran to resupply when there is time.

Archon Shari’fal, in conjunction with Lady Liadrin, also requests the Convocation’s presence at the earliest convenience following the conclusion of your affairs within Gorgrond, as reports indicate that two attacks on Talador are imminent. Continued access for both ourselves and our allies to Talador is imperative, as it is a resource-rich forest that provides trading routes to the rest of the continent, and it is the major centre of draenei civilisation.

In the north, on the coast by Shattrath City, Blackrock orcs have encroached on the forest, and you should be wary during travel. A reported fleet of Iron Horde battleships are under construction in Gorgrond, and the last rangari report indicates that this fleet will leave to attack Shattrath directly in weeks, if not days. Shattrath City is almost twice the size of the one we are accustomed to in Outland, and it has no adequate defences prepared for an attack of this scale. Lady Liadrin has also requested aid from the Frostwolves.

In the south, demonic presence is building in the hills near Nagrand, and Auchindoun’s shielding crystals have disappeared. The rangari suspect that there are Legion agents hiding within the city, and draenei society is currently in turmoil following the death of Velen, and of his ruling council only three of five members remain. Archon Shari’fal has gained the trust of several high-ranking members of the Auchenai priesthood, and has informed us that the draenei response is not ready for an attack it fears at the hands of the Shadow Council: currently, the only defences Auchindoun possesses are the ata’mal cloaking crystals, and we have yet to confirm if they have been compromised. It is critical that the Shadow Council is not allowed to wrest control of Auchindoun in this timeline, as it contains millions of draenei souls which would give the Shadow Council warlocks enough power to trigger a full-scale Legion invasion.

In both cases, the Convocation’s usefulness as a reconnaissance and forward infantry division would prove invaluable to help build the defences of both cities, and provided we succeed, our aid would ensure continued positive relations between the Horde and the Draenei.

Hoping that all is well, Arcanist Dawndancer.”

An Essay on Peace with Dalaran

In light of the Purge of Dalaran, what should Quel’thalas’ course be in regards to relations with the Kirin Tor?

“Given the de-escalation in Alliance-Horde relations since Garrosh Hellscream’s defeat, I think it is a natural course of relations that Quel’thalas must similarly lessen its personal hostilities with the City-state of Dalaran.

While I recognise that deep personal embitterment has occurred due to the brutal removal of Horde members from Dalaran and the deaths and imprisonment of Sunreaver members, as well as the alleged involvement of Sunreaver members in the Divine Bell Incident, the state of burgeoning peace between Alliance and Horde under the efforts of Warchief Vol’jin will be put at risk if significant military action occurs between Dalaran and Silvermoon.

Given Silvermoon’s recent re-establishment and the persistence of internal issues such as the Wretched, the barren status of the Dead Scar and Ghostlands and the management of the Sunwell, there is no way to say definitively that Quel’thalas would be victorious in a full-scale battle with Dalaran, particularly given the city’s mobility and the possession of centuries’ worth of Blue Dragon artefacts that it may now possess given Archmage Proudmoore’s ties with the Blue Aspect Kalecgos.

While I agree that our people have been mistreated and humiliated on repeated occasions by the Magus-Senate, and in particular by specific members of the Council of Six, any further retaliation on behalf of the Blood Elves poses a significant risk to the future of our nation, as well as relations with the Alliance and Horde. Additionally, it would be likely to create a vicious cycle which would ultimately not rectify any of our grievances with Dalaran, as we cannot count on the Horde or Alliance to fight a proxy war on our behalf due to the intentions of Warchief Vol’jin and King Wrynn to restore a state of ceasefire. In fact, such destabilising efforts would likely lead to estrangement from the Horde, creating a worse internal situation due to a decline in trade.

Instead, I propose that long-term negotiations between the leadership of both nations must be key to restoring peace. While it is clear that Archmage Proudmoore is a far more reactionary leader than her predecessors Rhonin and Antonidas, her interests in peace were notable prior to the appointment of Garrosh Hellscream, including two Horde-Alliance peace summits which significantly reduced hostilities prior to the outbreak of the Northrend War. Given such efforts, I am hopeful that with external pressure from Alliance and Horde leadership, we can accomplish initial negotiations.

In terms of issues to be addressed, there must be compensation, both for the violation of Dalaranese neutrality by alleged Sunreaver agents – to do so, the agents responsible must be located and trialled – and the violation of the rights of Sunreaver and non-aligned blood elf citizens who suffered during their expulsion from Dalaran, as well as their immediate release provided they are guilty of no crimes. In addition, the Kirin Tor must recognise the innocence of the majority of Horde forces within Dalaran of the events concerning the destruction of Theramore and the Divine Bell incident.

While I realise that there are considerable feelings on both sides of this conflict, I am confident that both sides can eventually find common ground, given the knowledge that destruction has not brought resolution to our past ails and thus cannot be expected to solve our current ones. With luck, we may find peace within a few years, and if there is a longer-lasting peace, perhaps we can begin to heal older divisions between the mages of Dalaran and those of Quel’thalas.”

Changing Perspectives

Change is death and death is change. Death of the old, and death of the new, and change is order and death is order and death is perpetuity.

I surface from the pool, gulping in the air.

So many dead, and I’m still here, and I almost forgot what to fight for, and so. Many. Dead.

Auchindoun is quiet in the cool morning air. The spirits are here, somewhere. I could go and apologise. Would they ever forgive me? Would I ever find them? So many dead.

The spirits would stand and watch; eternal, yet ephemeral. The Legion knows not their stories. The demons revel in their pain, rewatching their deaths over and over like in some shitty goblin play.

Above, the call of a bird breaks open. It swoops down, a Kaliri, long gold feathers and long brown tail, picks up a mouse, disappears.

Still it all goes on. Still I am alive. Still we fight.

Home has never felt more far away.

I failed. I failed the draenei and yet tens of thousands more live now than ever will on Azeroth and Outland. We won and we lost and I don’t know how to feel.

The trees stretch out overhead, the bright colours of eternal autumn. They are like those of Eversong, yet more. Every twisting olemba here is natural, a wonder; every tree in Eversong a magical creation, a throwback to a land lost ten-thousand years prior.

Do I miss home? Do I miss the safety? The people? Am I doing a good job here?

The legends say that Velen sees every world in the cosmos the Legion touches – that he considers it his mission to ensure every ruined planet is remembered.

And still we fight. Taleberaite kills a century of demons, Khairan another; there are more now than there were before.

I can see the faces of the draenei spirits in the water; briefly, they shimmer, and are gone, passing through to the inner ring. The spirits are constantly nearby, but never present.

And still we fight. Some fall, and some keep going. And the Pandaren said to remain balanced and taught me their lessons and still they died. Had the Horde been formed, they likely would have died anyway. Should we shed tears for lives that were lost long ago?

If Auchindoun falls, they say the Legion will win, though Auchindoun fell once and the Legion eventually lost, at the cost of a planet.

The forest shifts, quietly.

When we kill more than the orcs kill, who is to blame? Did we do the best we could? Will we be allowed a second chance?

Wasn’t this already our second chance?

I am on the shore, now; my legs cross and I look at the sky. The moons of Draenor show no change; the world may be destroyed but the sky is eternal.

The monks said to be a leaf in the wind; the leaf is blown far and wide, left and right; it is turned and thrown upside down; it may land in a place far different from where its home once was.


The wound went deep. To my pride, I suppose. Elves have a thing with pride. Even when you think you’ve gotten rid of it, it persists. I try my hardest. I’m certainly no Anrithen. But can I take pride in that?

The light coming in the cell isn’t natural. It’s too consistent to be sunlight, although I have no idea what direction my cell points in. A way of keeping you awake, perhaps. I’m coping well enough. The lack of mana’s starting to bite – indeed, it had been starting to bite when we reached Wor’var. Now it was more like having a foot gnawed off.

I stay in meditation most hours, trying to regulate my flow. The cell’s too suppressive to take anything from the lighting, or indeed to try chip away at the incantations keeping the cell suppressive. It’s like a miniaturised 7/7 party.

The blasted ring’s gone as well. If I’d had the forethought I would have hidden it somewhere decent – swallowed it, perhaps. Dragon technology will at least stump Highmaul for long enough to keep me alive.

The question is what happens when and if they figure out the ring. I’m no use as a gladiator, at any rate. I could end up in Maltinius’ posse – he’s certainly never had any elves before – but he seems to prefer the draenei.

I’m contemplating weaning myself off the magic at this rate. Goodness knows I’ve no idea when a rescue will come about, since Aleck stormed off. Khairan is… somewhere. That’s about it for potential rescuers.

Everyone is quiet. I don’t know if they’ve lost hope. I came to terms with death a fair while ago. I wouldn’t like to end up dead here, but I’m not going to be idealistic about it. Occasionally there’s screaming. I just try to meditate through it. The more mana I have… Well, I don’t really know what I’m going to do with it.