Saturday, January 03, 2009

Death Knight, Part 5: The Epilogue

One of the things I've done while sick is start another death knight. For a year or two I played a night elf warrior named Spiderheart. (Her upbringing had been, shall we say, not full of parental love.) Eventually I bogged down and felt that none of the mid-60s options to me were working out, and there were guild problems, and what with one thing and other the character went first into retirement and then into oblivion.

Now she's back as a death knight. (That story will follow another time.) And while I took a peek at the death knight starting zone as it is "now" in game time in the gap between the 3.0.2 patch and the actual release of Wrath of the Lich King, I realized that I hadn't done so since the expansion came out. So Spiderheart went and checked out what remains of the Scarlet Enclave. It proved a nicely melancholy sort of place.

New Avalon is empty now, even of ghosts. The Ebon Blade left behind banners, but there are no guards; neither the Scarlet Crusade/Onslaught nor the Scourge seems to want to interfere with the place now.

New Avalon Town Center

The citadel is almost completely gone—not much of a surprise after the assault by undead wyrm that concludes the Lich King's assault, of course:

New Avalon stronghold in ruins

The pond that lay beside the blacksmith's shop got completely vaporized in the final assault, and the siege engine that toppled into the gap is still smoking:

Smoking siege engine

The inn, which was full first of desperate citizens hoping in vain for escape and then of Scourge troops planning their assault on surviving defenses, is quiet as well. I note here that this particular design has been in WoW since the beginning and I have yet to tire of it:

Empty upstairs room

The cauldron whose construction so occupied er Noth the Plaguebringer in phase 2 of the attack still bubbles and releases its toxic brew, but it's untended now:

Untended Scourge cauldron

Overhead, the Ebon Hold remains, filled now the rebellious death knights who face Northrend and Icecrown and seldom, one suspects, ever think much about what's below:

Ebon Hold over the remains

I daresay that not one player in a hundred or a thousand ever goes to look at this stuff or thinks much about it if they do. And yet here it is, not just stock ruins but some customization as well, rich in ambience. I was reminded of one of the prose poems by one of my very favorite horror authors:

When all the landscape is dying, descending fragrantly to earth, we alone rise up. After light and warmth have passed from the world, when everyone stands melancholy at the graveside of nature, we alone return to keep them company. This is our season to be reborn. The supple swish of summer trees has become a dry rattle in a cooling wind, and our ears begin to tingle as we lie dark and deep in our beds. Crinkled leaves scratch against our doors, calling us from our lonely houses.

When the world goes gray on its way to white, every living heart summons us with its fear; and, if circumstances are favorable, we will answer. We take as many as we can back to the grave with us, because that is our task. Our senseless cycle is out of nature's season: we go our own way, deviates of matter longing to bring an end to the charade of all seasons, natural or supernatural.
And we are always dreaming of the day when all the fires of summer are defunct, when everyone like a shriveled leaf sinks into the cooling ground of a sunless earth, and when even the colors of autumn have withered for the last time, dissolving into the desolate whiteness of an eternal winter.

Thomas Ligotti, "Autumnal", Noctuary