We Are The Change We Seek
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This isn't where I thought I was going to be when I looked forward into my life, but here I am....

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There and back again, a Warlock's Tale

I am of course referring to my World of Warcraft character, Johl. Yesterday I had an amazing experience playing and I want to share it with you. Last night's session playing WoW is probably the single biggest reason why I play role playing games. It was a moving experience. You may think this is all really cheesy, and at first it probably is.. but I hope I am able to convey the feeling of the whole adventure.

Johl is a magic user, but specifically in WoW terms a Warlock. Which means that instead of just using magic to its own end, he summons minor demons, controls them and has them fight on his behalf. A dark profession to be sure. After binding the Imp and the Voidwalker to his will, Johl's teacher felt he was ready to try his hand at summoning and binding a Succubus, the devourer of souls, destroyer of hearts and dominator of minds.

The Summoning of a Succubus requires a symbol of love as bait so it can be coaxed onto this plane and enslaved. Johl's teacher tells him of Takar the Seer who will know of an appropriate offering, he must search out Takar to gain this knowledge.

Takar however has foresaken the human lands and lives in the Barrens on the continent of Kalimdor. Johl has never been to Kalimdor because it is infested by the Horde. This will not be easy alone and even though Johl's Guild has offered assistance, Johl feels this is a quest that must he must complete without them. They suggest purchasing passage on an Alliance ship from Menethil Harbor across the Maelstrom to Theramore in Dustwallow Marsh. Theramore is an Alliance outpost on Kalimdor, surrounded by evil.

When he sets foot in Theramore, it is hard to describe the feeling. He's never set foot on this continent, to do so without a companion is daunting. Looking around at the other adventurers in Theramore they show the scars and wisdom of having been tested against foes much greater than Johl has been tested against.

Up to the edge of the outpost, he finds himself at the entrance to the Dustwallow Marsh. No beasts are in sight, but he knows they are waiting. With no Guildmates and no demon as his side (for Johl was foolish and did not bring the neccessary components to summon one) he steps onto the road through the Marsh. Run. Run as fast as you can and do not stop.

Accosted at every other turn by venom spitting spiders as large as two men or Crocolisks larger than Johl has ever seen, he makes it to the edge of the Marsh with only one small trip through the Spirit Realm. Never leave the road and never stand still, not in a place like Dustwallow Marsh.

Up the hills and over the mountains into the Barrens. Johl's first look into the Barrens is startling. It is an orange-yellow savanah stretching farther than the eye can see. There are beasts two stories tall that wander the plain, the ground shaking under their step. Quietly moving past these magnificent beasts, Johl turns north and is witness to a herd of gazelle, gently springing across the plains. He is struck by their beauty and stops to watch their magnificence. He should have learned though that beauty does not imply safety and he is attacked by one of the giant cats that roam The Barrens! With nearly a breath left in him, he subdues the lioness and extracts from her the spirit energy needed to bind a Voidwalker.

He continues north in search of Camp Taurajo, where it is said that Takar has made his home. His stride is longer than before for his Voidwalker servant, Zhar'kresh, now guards him. It seems like days before he sees Camp Taurajo in the distance and at once he understands just whose land this is. Is the land of the Tauren, 9 foot if an inch, foul creatures half-human and half-bull... or so he thought. Perhaps the Taurens are are not so uncivilized for their land is well kept and unspoiled like the land of the Orcs or the Undead. Perhaps these Tauren could be brought to the side of the Alliance?

Their cities are different than those Johl grew up in. His cities are of rock and metal, the Taurens live in structures of wood and the hide of plains beasts. He stands far outside of Camp Taurajo, hiding from the guards that patrol its border. He has seen guards like this before, in his home town of Northshire. They defend the townspeople against the wolves or Gnolls that wander the land. One of the guards suddenly pitches forward and breaks out at speed, it must have seen such a beast. However, its direction puts it near Johl who looks behind him to discover no beast behind him. He realizes there is no beast the guard seeks... no beast besides him. He commands the Voidwalker to attack and turns on his heels. If Zhar'kresh can only distract the guard long enough for him to escape... but no. The guard is far too quick and Johl is cut down on the road, broken and bloody.

The Soul Stone in Johl's satchel tethers his spirit from being pulled to the graveyard. When the guard is gone, he steps back from the spirit plane and into his body. When the veil lifts and he pulls himself off of the ground, he finds a Tauren and an Undead standing over his body... laughing! He immediately jumps back, casts his spells of protection and calls forth Zhar'kresh to defend him once more. The Undead turns to Johl and summons an Imp to its side... simple posturing. These Horde do not possess the power to overcome him, even with numbers in their favor. Both parties back away and Johl makes haste past the camp lest they call for allies.

He continues running north past the camp when he sees a small tree and a house in the distance. A house! Not of hide, but of wood and thatched roof! This must be the home of Takar!

Takar has seen through distance and time in expectation of Johl's arrival. He has discovered an item to tempt the Succubus from the depths... a piece of the Heartswood tree. In Ashenvale, a dark forest north of the Barrens grows a tree in the ruins of Ordil'Aran. In the War of the Ancients, two lovers fell together in battle. Where they took their last breaths, a tree known as the Heartswood grew, a symbol of their undying love. How could a Succubus deny such a lure?!

To Ashenvale Forest! Johl is almost sad to leave the Barrens for its danger was matched by its beauty. He makes a pact to return to this land one day.

Ashenvale feels more like home, but it is wilder than the forests of Elwynn. The trees grow larger as well as the wolves. The wolves and bears that roam these forests prove to be more than a match for Zhar'kresh, but Johl presses on. Through the forests to Astranaar, an Alliance town built by Night Elves. It is protected by water on all sides and he takes a moment to rest. His journey has been long and it nears to a close. North from Astranaar deep into the woods he finds the ruins of Ordil'Aran, but it is not empty. The Cult of the Dark Strand Warlocks is myriad here, no doubt they have found the powers of the Heartswood tree. Thankfully they have not mastered their own powers yet for they are protected by Imps and Voidwalkers, not a one has called the Succubus to its will.

Skirting the edges of the clearing, Johl dispatches two of the lesser Warlocks, but a third is allied with a mighty swordsman! Johl retreats into the forest while Zhar'kresh distracts the warrior.

Sitting outside the clearing, Johl waits and thinks. How does one Warlock defeat such a Cult? He has made his journey alone, at the end of the road it appears that his Guild may have been right in offering their assitance. Just then, a woman carrying a large war hammer enters the clearing. Upon seeing the vast infestation of cultists, she retreats into the trees. Now is Johl's chance, he approaches her and offers an alliance. Her name is Gorticia and together they should have a much better chance against this group of Warlocks. Johl is worried that two will still not be enough when a large black jungle cat charges toward them. Johl draws his dagger as Gorticia raises her hammer, when the cat stops and stands up changing form into a Night Elf. A druid! Those who can adopt the shape of the beasts around them! He wishes to join them for he and Gorticia have business against the Cult.

The three fight together as if bound by one mind. The Cult can not stand against the combined power of the three. They clear away the Warlocks and Johl approachs the Heartswood tree, nearly as large around as the house Johl grew up in. A small axe brought to task and Johl holds in his hands the goal of his quest. A quest that took him to the other side of the world, through horid marshes and wonderous plains.

Now return to Stormwind, continue the quests, bind the Succubus to his will... there is no sleep for Johl just yet.

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