Bleeding Sun

Or, we could title this entry “Blizzard’s Baby-killing Fiasco.”

If you haven’t read Bleeding Sun, then you should do so. The short story is available on Blizzard’s website. I’ll warn, it isn’t very enjoyable — by the end, you’ll either be sad or frustrated, or both. Like me.

In my opinion, this story is an blunder in terms of character development. It tries hard, and brings out a heavy-handed story-hook… but in the end, the endeavor feels like a cheapening of past events and a very, very convenient means of furthering some half-cocked future story in the franchise. All while killing a Tauren newborn.

Without recapping too much of the narrative, we come into the story with Dezco situated at the Shrine of the Two Moons, shortly after his wife died during childbirth. His sons are by his side. He’s feeling put-upon, wondering when his wife’s vision of peace and happiness will finally come. The Golden Lotus show up and perform a ritual which is meant to select children from the surrounding populace for inclusion in their order — and yet when the gong is rung, no Pandaren children respond to the ritual. Dezco’s two sons, do.

Dezco is then faced with a choice — which son should he hand over to the Lotus, to be schooled in their ways? Should he part with either? He reacts fairly sensibly (sensible, considering he’s just lost his wife and his two sons are his world right now) by determining he’ll choose neither, and will leave the Vale to return home with his boys. In attempting to leave the Vale, however, he is caught in a Mogu attack. One of his sons is pummeled to death (either by a charging Mogu or Dezco’s own fevered attacks, despite how he tried to protect the child), and the other is stabbed with a Mogu blade.

A member of the Golden Lotus ushers him and the still-living child to one of the Vale’s sacred pools, to be healed. His other son is too far gone to be revived — even by a Sunwalker. As with Leza, we’re severely nerfing this guy’s abilities here, but I’ll roll with it for now. Chi-Ji, the Red Crane, appears and heals the dying child.

Now, here’s where they lost me. One, from this point on Dezco does not seem as anguished as he should be, given his one son’s death — and the shade of his wife’s death still lingering over him, to boot. Two, he has a sudden change of heart and feels fine with turning his still-living, revived boy over to the Golden Lotus, knowing he will not be able to fully raise the child as he would like to. And three… holy God, did we just have to kill a Tauren newborn to make his “decision” easier, and position the remaining child as the Golden Lotus’ new Tauren initiate? Really? We tugged on all these heart-strings to accomplish THAT? Would it have really destroyed Creative Development’s grand scheme if they allowed his other son to live and become a Sunwalker?

What feels particularly bad about this is how Dezco is handled in the final pages, and after the story is concluded. In the game, he’s off on the Isle of Thunder handing out quests to control the Saurok. What? We have a father and a husband who has lost his wife and children, and he’s A-OK with dolling out a run-of-the-mill Kill Quest? He’s not even waging holy war against the Mogu — you know, the brutes who had a hand in killing and injuring his boys? And in 5.3, he’s evidently only in the storyline to chill out Taran-Zhu and stop the Shado-Pan from ousting the Horde from the Vale? This is the future for this character, thus far? Come on.

It feels like a cheap plot device, devaluing the story that earlier had made an impact on us players — that being Leza’s death during childbirth and how her two sons survived her. In Bleeding Sun, they become a means to an end… one killed because he is inconvenient to the “you must choose one” storyline involving the Golden Lotus, and the other fulfilling some obscure prophecy. On one hand, the telling of the child’s death is heart-wrenching, but on the other it feels as though it is lacking the full gravity it should possess, being weak, cheap. And mean. It’s a greater crime to later see Dezco bopping along in-game as if none of these events ever happened — will they perhaps acknowledge his grief in 5.4? I have the suspicion they will not.

Killing a father’s child is a major event for a character to undergo. In Bleeding Sun, it seems to be played off far too easily. Losing his surviving son to a secretive order is also taken quite well, and the ease of giving him over in the end seems entirely uncharacteristic for someone in Dezco’s shoes. Hooves. I’m coming out of the story events thus far feeling sad and angry — sad for Dezco, but angry at the storytellers. They went this route, and it was a bold move, but they also seem to have missed how great an impact it would actually have on the Sunwalker. I’ve yet to see a development that shows me they’ve done anything but botched this major event for poor Dezco. I’m hoping that will change, but I’m not holding my breath.

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