Daniel Howell contributes BigRedKitty, a column with strategies, tips and tricks for and about the Hunter class, sprinkled with a healthy dose of completely improper, sometimes libelous, personal commentary.One of the big bonuses of playing on the beta was getting to see all the behind-the scenes action. Mountains being built, oceans filling up, trees being planted, etc. We got to talk to all the NPCs in the game, too. We found out what they thought about the expansion, their leaders, and the kind of food Blizzard typical had catered during a workday.
Now it's not widely known that before Blizzard sent the instance and raid bosses to their new dwellings, they had a wrap-up party. We were able to crash it, thanks to our having a friendly relationship with a few of the goblin waiters running about.
So there they all were, kicking around the set, knocking back a few cold ones, telling jokes and stories. Every raid and instance boss wishing each other well and cavorting with each other rather pleasantly. One man was conspicuously absent from the pre-launch festivities: Arthas. But nobody seemed terribly concerned about it.
"So what's going on? Did you guys invite Arthas?" we asked.
Prince Keleseth of Utgard Keep slurred, "Oh yeah, we invited him. Fat lot good it'll do though. He doesn't like to party anymore, not in the least. He's a party-pooper. Well yeah I just said it! I dare anybody here to disagree with me, too!"
Cyanigosa of the Violet Hold put down his glass and said pointedly, "Well he used to at least show up, but when the Burning Crusade was about to come out, and we were doing a conga-line around the Dark Portal, some blood elf made a joke about how its a good thing that all-black outfits were slimming... Arthas bugged out of there, madder than hell, like we replaced the runes in his sword with M&Ms or something. We laughed as little as we could as he stomped through the screen door of his trailer, but we couldn't hold it in any more when we saw him toss a gnome tailor out of the door, ripping his own cloak off in the process. The dude has some insecurities, that's for certain."
"But he's the big dog in this place? He knows that, right? Arthas is the man!"
Grand Magus Telestra of The Nexus spun around, leaned over, and wagged her finger in our face. "He's not the man; he's the wimp. He's a cold fish. Frankly, I don't want him hanging around backstage. We're trying to get ready for the Wrath of the Lich King launch, and right now, we're all suffering from the Wimpiness of the Lich King. 'I don't like my horse. I don't like my helmet." Grow a pair! You murdered Uther the Lightbringer, for Elune's sake; you're supposed to be badass! Running around with silk boxers under plate armor, it's demeaning to everybody who's put in so much time to do our best to provide phat loot and a good workout to all the players coming to Northrend."
At this point, Telestra strutted to her makeup appointment and we decided it was a good time to make our exit. We walked out on the dock, expecting quiet. But the crying... once we realized it wasn't coming from the party, we knew exactly what our next steps had to be.
With the pre-launch party in Howling Fjord in full swing, the rest of the zones were basically empty. That meant we could Track Humanoid and be relatively sure that when we saw a little dot on our minimap, we'd have found our guy. We searched for a few hours; found nothing. Sobs were on the wind, though, he had to be somewhere. And if he wasn't in Northrend, that left two other continents to search.
Kalimdor? Nah, Arthas doesn't want to go to Kalimdor. He might run into Jaina. (Little did Arthas know that Jaina was at the wrap-up party we just left, getting chummy with an old friend of hers.) The Eastern Kingdom, that's where he must have gone.
Uther's Tomb? No, Arthas wasn't crying over slaying his mentor.
Lordaeron? Nope, grieving for murdering his own father wasn't on his schedule either. We asked the abominations if they had seen him, but they were silent. They had been told they were going to be the designated drivers for Sylvanas' entourage when she and her posse were done at the party, and they weren't particularly pleased.
Was he in Ironforge, paying his respects to Mauradin Bronzebeard? Nada. The only one there was Princess Moira. She was taking advantage of her father's absence -- the king never misses a kegger -- to do some laundry. Apparently the Emperor doesn't use the right fabric softener.
The winds still carried the lament of the lonely Lich King; he was here somewhere. But where...