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Bloody-handed in Dalaran

Bloodyhanded in Dalaran
Spoilers for Operation: Shieldwall quests to follow

I wrote how a race change changed the way I viewed the Horde, especially the Dominance Offensive questing. Well, turnabout is fair play, and so I went and got my worgen through the Operation: Shieldwall quests up to the events in Dalaran. And it's funny, because I expected it to feel different, and it did. But not quite the way I'd expected.

At the end of today's questing, I had many conflicting feelings. As Matthew Rossi, the guy who writes these posts, I was deeply troubled by what I did in Dalaran. This was not a case of a rational, cool-thinking commander giving good orders, this was a case of someone pushed too far finally snapping. The actions I took at the behest of two deeply aggrieved leaders left me with a sour taste in my mouth, when I stopped to reflect upon them.

But while I was playing? My worgen had absolutely no compunctions. Never before have I done things that, as a player I felt were wrong, but as a character I felt were absolutely right. An eye for an eye may leave the whole world blind, but doing nothing just leaves me with a missing eye.

Behind the cut I'm going into details, and those details will be chock full of spoilers. You've been warned.
Bloodyhanded in Dalaran

The purge of Dalaran, from the perspective of my character, is a restoration of the natural order of things. As a Gilnean, seeing Dalaran proclaim neutrality and allow the Horde free admittance was absurd, ridiculous - Dalaran was one of the original founders of the Alliance of Lordaeron, it fought the Horde in the Second War when even my own people were less than forthcoming. Considering that the Horde attacked Gilneas without provocation, using plague and endless waves of undead to steal our land and kill our prince, the very idea of trusting them to honor any sort of neutrality pledge is laughable. And indeed, it proves so, as Jaina tracks the arcane magic used by the thieves of the Divine Bell back to a portal to Dalaran, and realizes that indeed the Sunreavers used Dalaran and the cloak of her promise of factional neutrality to steal the Bell right out of Darnassus. The Sunreavers who stole the bell might as well have sent Jaina a thank you note, because without her help they couldn't have done it.

So when Jaina ordered me through the portal and into Dalaran, I was expecting repercussions. What I got was terrifying, from the perspective of the person behind the keyboard.
Bloodyhanded in Dalaran

First off, let's be clear about one thing - Jaina didn't just take Aethas Sunreaver captive, she did so with contemptuous ease. He wasn't even a speed bump. If Rommath had come up out of the sewer and confronted her, he'd have gone down like a chump. Jaina may not be the head of the Kirin Tor because of her raw power, but make no mistake, that raw power was definitely on display. More disturbing than that power, however, is the brutality with which she unleashed it. She took out five Sunreaver High Mages with her pet. She wandered the streets of Dalaran teleporting the terrified Sunreavers she encountered into the Violet Hold.

Even more terrifying than this, however, is the Silver Covenant. Vereesa Windrunner has established herself as very like her sisters. Indeed, it's fascinating to see how clinical Vereesa is in the implementation of the purge of the Sunreavers and the Horde from Dalaran. The quests I undertook on her behalf had me walking the streets of Dalaran murdering Sunreavers in their homes and places of business, killing a Sunreaver magister for the crime of taking his money out of the bank before running away, slaughtering Sunreavers in the streets and in the sewers, and as I accomplished each task I found myself divided between my character (who, as you'll remember, was driven out of his homeland by the Horde) and the player. My worgen felt it was a just revenge to drive Horde out of their homes, but I didn't miss the irony of it, the dispossessed now dispossessing others. And also, Vereesa proved that undeath didn't change Sylvanas as much as we like to think. There's a streak of ruthlessness in all the Windrunner clan - Alleria slaughtering orcs after they killed her family members, Sylvanas as she defended Quel'thalas from Arthas, it's there in all of them.

As a worgen, a Gilnean, hacking down blood elves at the behest of a high elf (remember, this is a racial division less than a decade old - these are effectively the same people) was not problematic for me. Confining the elves to the Violet Hold did not remind my character of how Kael'thas was imprisoned there by Garithos the unrepentant racist because my worgen was behind the Greymane Wall back then, and has never even heard of Garithos. My worgen took the orders from a woman who'd lost her city to the Horde, and the woman who'd lost her husband and the father of her children, her brother and many of her family, and even her racial identity to the Horde and didn't worry that their grief and rage was compromising their objectivity. No, he just grinned that particular toothy grin a worgen grins before the claws come out, and he went out into the streets and killed Sunreavers for the crime of being Sunreavers.
Bloodyhanded in Dalaran

As a player, especially one who has played the Horde side of all this, I see how this was provoked. I grasp that Jaina went to the mat again and again for neutrality, that she wanted peace, that even after Theramore was destroyed she respected the Sunreaver presence and tried to keep Dalaran neutral only to see supposedly loyal members of the Kirin Tor work hand in glove with Garrosh Hellscream to steal another magical artifact. And considering what happened the last time Garrosh Hellscream got his hands on a magical artifact, I don't blame Jaina for being angry. She's already seen Theramore blown up, she's not going to wait for Hellscream to blow up Dalaran with the Divine Bell. It makes sense.

But I still look at those terrified Sunreavers running helpless in the streets of Dalaran, and an implacable force simply teleporting them to be imprisoned. I still look at myself, swords in hand, hacking down any armed resistance and even invading shops to kill the proprietors. This war with the Horde has the very real danger of making the Alliance more like what it fights, and today I did quests that very much felt like those giving the quests had slipped over that line. But let us not pretend that I didn't very much enjoy the turnabout while I was engaged in it.

The questions came after, when I remembered that the blacksmith I killed in Dalaran had repaired my armor for me more than once. The dragonhawks I killed had borne me to the Isle of Quel'Danas. We've gained Dalaran for the Alliance. What have we lost? My worgen, in the end, no longer cares. He can list atrocity after atrocity committed by the Horde - the invasion of Gilneas, the destruction of Southshore, the theft of Silverpine, the firebombing of Astranaar, the obliteration in Stonetalon, Theramore - and his resolve is hardened, as was mine when I played him. I do not think my worgen would even feel a moment's regret. Those terrified Sunreaver citizens running in the streets? They got off light compared to Southshore, or Gilneas, or Theramore.


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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Mists of Pandaria

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