Sunwalker: Thirty to Thirty-Five

Following the events in Stonetalon, I took Warchief Hellscream’s advice and proceeded on to Southern Barrens. Unlike Northern Barrens, the Southern portion has been dramatically changed by the Cataclysm and ensuing conflicts. The Alliance presses forward, Naralex makes another appearance, and Camp Taurajo is changed forever.

Read on for my experiences in Southern Barrens!

Please note, these recaps will contain spoilers.

Honor’s Stand

Previously, Honor’s Stand marked a transition between the Barrens and Stonetalon Mountains. In Cataclysm, this small Horde outpost has fallen to the Alliance. Their fortification is one of the first you encounter as you exit Stonetalon via a mountain pass — the conflict is again presented clearly to you, with Horde cliff-runners making hit-and-run attacks on the Alliance from the mountain trails above their base. As you move down from the mountains and into Hunter’s Hill, your fight against the Alliance continues, culminating in the assassination of the Alliance surveyor who has mapped out their future plans for the Barrens.

Camp Una’fe and Vendetta Point

Your next stop is Camp Una’fe. Una’fe, meaning “refuge” in Taurahe, is aptly named — if you happen to play (or have played) a Tauren, and if you have ever been involved with Camp Taurajo in pre-Cataclysm World of Warcraft, you’ll be in for a shock. Camp Taurajo has been sacked by the Alliance, and the survivors have fled to Una’fe. Initially, the reasoning behind this attack is unknown and the events surrounding it become an integral part of the zone’s questlines and storytelling for both Horde and Alliance. If you’re a Tauren, or if your character has ever looked fondly upon the Tauren as a people, you may just be a bit outraged as you learn of the innocents who were attacked and murdered, seemingly without cause or reason.

Alliance – they’ve surrounded the camp! What are they doing here? Why are they attacking Taurajo? Get the children – run! RUN!

I’ve been playing World of Warcraft since launch, and I have encountered only a few questlines and/or events that struck me as the Taurajo incident did. One would be the “In Dreams” quest as part of Tirion Fordring’s Eastern Plaguelands quest chain (it is gone now, in Cataclysm). Another would be the quests surrounding the Taunka’s flight from Borean Tundra to Dragonblight (and subsequent induction into the Horde). The Wrathgate also ranks high on this list. Cataclysm, so far, has presented me with Overlord Krom’gar’s folly in Stonetalon and the sacking of Taurajo in Southern Barrens. And I say… so far, so good! These are the sort of stories that need to be told. The characters involved have depth, motivations, and there are consequences for their near-sighted thinking, their outright cruelty. You see the survivors. You see the destruction. You see how one’s life can change in an instant. And, you have a front row ticket.

So, kudos to you Blizzard. Kodo-sized kudos.

Desolation Hold

Following your trip to the Ruins of Taurajo, you proceed southward to Desolation Hold. Here, you meet the ineffectual (and sniveling) Warlord leading the Horde forces in Southern Barrens, Gar’dul, and promptly affect his replacement with Warlord Bloodhilt. This is another event that, like Garrosh’s dismissal of Overlord Krom’gar in Stonetalon, showcases the goings-on in the Horde military hierarchy — particularly that of the orcs. Gar’dul, when confronted by Bloodhilt, attacks his fellow warlord. You get to join in! And when Gar’dul is near death, he submits — something Bloodhilt does not receive kindly, as he then grabs Gar’dul by the throat and pitches him out a convenient window. Gar’dul’s fall is fatal.

Fantastic, I say.

Bloodhilt then assumes control of Desolation Hold and immediately puts you to work. You’re sent into the thick of the conflict out at the Battlescar, and the following quests have a distinct “Player versus Player” feel to them. You got a taste of this in Vendetta Point, and now it is in full swing. Bloodhilt also identifies the “Butcher of Taurajo” — the man behind the attack — and sends you to kill him, messily. Also, an old “friend” makes a reappearance — Gann Stonespire! He’s back at Bael’Dun, and this time he’s doing more than just blowing up their flying machines.

Throughout the Southern Barrens, Alhazad has been absolutely incensed. His anger is kept in check only by the discipline taught to him first as a warrior, then a Sunwalker, plus the fact that his wife, Mishotah, has been adventuring with him. His restraint has been slowly whittled away by the many Alliance transgressions he’s borne witness to, however, and it is with rage in his heart that he uses the Light of An’she to sear his enemies’ flesh. Here, he is not so much a member of the Horde or the Ani Ayastigi — here, he is a Tauren Sunwalker, and retribution must be mete. As a roleplayer, I am eating this up.

And here is where I’ve left off. The Butcher of Taurajo will pay, soon. I will post again when I complete these quests.

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