I have spent a lot of time doing older content for mounts and transmog items on my free time, fitting in as much as I can despite my currently heavy real life schedule. I always have a blast doing these, whether with a group or by myself, and still remain hopeful that <insert mount name here> would drop this run. Even though it doesn’t, I just keep doing it, up until it becomes a weekly routine, exactly on every reset.
Longest Run Ever
The other week, as I was attempting another run for the Ashes of Alar in Tempest Keep, I found myself unable to complete it due to my LFR popping like crazy in the middle of the Kael’thas fight. Since the Sun King has to do his whole horse and pony show pre-fight, and the long, long, long pause after downing his enchanted weaponry, it certainly gives enough time for raid finder to gather enough people for my queues. Though, I’m much more positive that the wild queue pops were due to my being a tank. My Death Knight, the one I was using at the time, still needed a lot of Secrets of the Empire to finish that specific phase of the Legendary Quest in Pandaria, so I simply could not ignore the raid finder pops. We all know too well that it is far more difficult to finish a single raid in LFR than it is to solo Tempest Keep, not because of its actual difficulty, but because of certain people that make it much harder than it’s supposed to be. You know what I’m talking about.
A grand total of six (6) raid finder queue pop occurred every time I was in the middle of the Kael’thas encounter and every single time I would enter and finish. I soon grew irritated at that happening a seventh time, as I had more characters to run through Tempest Keep anyway, so I simply decided to queue only as DPS and not a tank, thus giving me moral incentive to “find something else to do while waiting for queue”. Perfect. With that, I knew I wasn’t going to get another pop for about forty-five minutes.
However, as I went on along the halls of Tempest Keep, I mused about how wonderfully crafted the environments are in the game and how much time it took to create them, only to be seen again when someone, like me, obsessed about that fiery phoenix of awesomeness. But it was only then that I actually decided to look at the detail that the designers painstakingly made, just to make sure that I was getting my money’s worth.
Oh, I Never Knew They Did That
As soon as I started the encounter again, I decided to take it slow, as I knew I wasn’t going to get the mount anyway, so why was I hurrying? It was the first time I actually paid attention to what the Sun King spouted at me for four months. Then I go through Thaladred the Darkener, the saddest of the four Kael’thas goons against my DK, as I cared little for silences. I played with him a bit longer rather than outright smashing his face in the first two seconds he’s alive and only then did I find out that he actually walked and not ran at me. I was also surprised that he had an actual knockback that hit me and sent me flying across the opposite side of the room, where I then just found out that there were adds over there that I always ignored in all my runs.
After taking my time in seeing what he actually did, I took him down and then came the intro for Lord Sanguinar. “BLERD FER BLERD!” will always echo through my mind whenever I hear any word that is etymologically derived from Sanguine. Though, for anything else, I noticed nothing significant from this second opponent except that he runs like a chicken with its head cut off. Fear is always a bad thing in WoW, and Sanguinar had too much to share, managing to cast one on me before falling lifelessly to the ground.
After dispatching the blood-addicted elf, Capernian was announced and I needed to know little more about her. Out of all the four goonies, she’s the most annoying one with the constant knockbacks that slow you afterwards. I just killed her outright, but not before throwing me into a pillar, managing to get me stuck inside. I feared that the fight might bug out and I would have to repeat the entire process, and Kael’thas’ speech, once more. Fortunately, after a few minutes of jumping in random directions, I was able to free myself from the polygonal horror, all the while Telonicus wailed on me like a noob mashing keys in PvP.
Soon afterwards, I took down the phantom armaments and waited like I always did for Kael’thas to resurrect his fallen minions. Such a waste, I thought to myself, when I remembered that Kael used to be one of my favorite characters, along with Illidan, in Warcraft III. They built up a long story for the blood elf and crafted a fantastic setting around his rise to power and madness, only to kill him off later in Magister’s Terrace without much fanfare. I used to visit that instance as well, but I found the White Hawkstrider too early on for it to develop into something like this routine. It struck me a sad tune that there would no longer be any foreseeable Kael-related content in the future that I could partake in.
Cutting the story short, I finished the instance like how I did every week, and picked up my expected verdant sphere and three chest tokens with the probable random item from the corpse of the crazy blood elf.
First page was the Verdant sphere, chest token, and chest token. I didn’t see the second page since I was on auto-loot, and the loot table quickly disappeared, putting everything else into my bags. Then there it was: unassuming to the eye due to its purple font and was masked by the deep red and orange hue of Tempest Keep, hidden between item text after item text; The Ashes of Alar.
After what was the longest instance attempt I ever had due to the random LFRs and my own pace, I finally found that one mount that I had always wanted since starting the game. I mused at how I heard some people took more time than I to get it to drop, and I yelped with glee at the very thought of it.
I would never have to return to Tempest Keep ever again.
But then, that’s when it hit me.
I would never return to Tempest Keep ever again.
A Joyous But Solemn Celebration
I had gotten used to my weekly routine of travelling to Tempest Keep. It was something I did with every single character I had at my disposal that could solo it, and then, just like that, never again. Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite happy with it dropping after quite some time and feel such an elation I haven’t felt since finishing Endless 30 of the Tanking Proving grounds, but somewhere inside me, I felt empty, like something was torn away from my very soul. Every run was always fun, regardless if I got something useful or not and despite the repetitiveness of it all.
I’m glad that I took my time during that run, that I was able to see Tempest Keep for how it was, as if I had seen it for the first time when it was first opened in the Burning Crusade. The entire experience from farm to finish is like reading a good book or finishing a great storyline in a game; you want to know how it ends, but you don’t want it to end either.
Of course, there’s a lot more to do, but there is only one Tempest Keep and that was something I will miss quite a lot. It really was the anticipation of a rare drop, the rush of performing a hardy trial, the journey to your goal; those are the more important things. You may gain that thing you wanted, but lose the reason and the drive that brought you there. Al’ar is but a cosmetic want, but farming it had certainly instilled in me a sense of dedication, a hard-working attitude, and a “never give up” standard, and these qualities have spilled over in other games I play and even my own life. Leaving one part of your life, no matter what and where it can be found, is a hard thing to do.
This is definitely not something that is experienced only in WoW, but also in life. It’s these experiences that make us stronger as we continue to achieve the best way we can live out our lives. But now that one very long goal is accomplished, what now? All we can really do is cherish the time we had with it and move on.Related: B2P, Blizzard Entertainment, Column, Community, World of Warcraft, WoW Wednesday