I hear there's a cleric in an Alliance camp in Desolace who has skeletons in his quest log. Although I have travelled through various regions already, I still have quite a trek ahead of me to reach him. My route takes me through Ratchet, as I still have a couple of quests from overpowering Wailing Caverns to hand in there, after which I need to cross The Barrens and pass through the mostly uninteresting Stonetalon Mountains to get to Desolace. I think I take a wrong turn somewhere, as tauren guards use their pointy weapons to explain that Sun Rock Retreat isn't a holiday camp, but my run through an enemy camp is a good short-cut. Desolace is now just around the corner.
Several NPCs greet me at Nijel's Point with quests, but I shun them all for the grander task. 'Brother Anton, I have heard the call. I am here to smite skeletons in the name of the Light.' Maybe my voice was muffled by facing down when kneeling, so I look up. 'Brother Anton, I seek enlightenment through the destruction of evil. How may I assist you?' Still Anton won't talk to me. 'Ah, it's a test! Yes, you are wise, I must first prove I am an ally.' So off I trot, speak to a lazy night elf who can't walk down the road and shoo some buzzards for himself, investigate the wagon and return with a pendant. Just as planned, handing in the quest gets me to 33rd level. As the elf ponders the pendant and starts asking me to locate its owner, his voice trails off as I run up to see Anton again.
'Brother Anton, I have aided that night elf, proving I am friend to the Alliance and making myself stronger in the process. I beseech you, let me fight for your cause.' But nothing. That's fine. If the Alliance doesn't want my help, I know people who do. The Scarlet Crusade has the noble cause of wiping out all evil, even if they are lunatic enough to think anyone not in the Scarlet Crusade must be evil. At least they have a goal. I persuade the other Filesystem Checkwits, still missing a druid, to travel with me to the Scarlet Monastery in Tirisfal Glades, where I hope to apply for a position.
The journey north is uneventful, and we pass the time all the way to the monastery pestering Livya to tell us who the admirer is who complimented her outfit earlier. Livya's faux-modest reluctance to tell only leads us to conclude that the compliment was from Lorr, the naked night elf she obsesses over, her subsequent denials only coming across as coquettish confirmation of the blossoming relationship. Through all the giggling and teasing we fail to hear heavily armed and armoured paladins shushing us, and it is only too late that we realise we have wandered in to the library of the Scarlet Monastery and committed the sin of talking too loudly. My first attempt to join the Scarlet Crusade starts badly as we end up defending ourselves against some rather harsh librarians. One chap even has several hounds with him, and as they don't look like guide dogs he must surely be breaking a by-law, so we mete our own justice to restore order.
Vulzerda tries on the dog training gloves that Houndmaster Loksey's corpse graciously offers her, and I note that his training must be pretty harsh if the gloves go right up to the elbow. As Vulzerda ponders this, sniffing the gloves with a wrinkled nose, I perform a little inventory shuffle. Whilst moving some of the pilgrim holiday achievement items to make room for more important loot, like cave mould, a trigger is accidentally pulled when I have Livya firmly centred in my sights. The explosion of feathers dissipates, leaving Livya looking remarkably like a turkey. This rather baffles Vulzerda. 'Maybe I've had too much to drink, but you seem a bit taller than normal.'
The transformation in to seasonal poultry doesn't affect Livya's ability to be an effective warlock, at least no more than normal. She finds out that in her new turkey form she can still cast spells, even if they do not emanate from her wings as expected. 'I have shadow feet!' It's true, shadow bolts are flying from the turkey's feet towards the mobs, whilst life tap and instant-cast spells cause her to jump in the air a little, all in a flap. I may have complained before about the lack of paladin attacks, but right now, as I giggle at this bizarre sight, I am thankful for the simple auto-attack that supplies the core of my tanking abilities. 'I'm glad I'm providing group entertainment', Livya gobbles.
'And later, we can pluck, cook and eat you', replies Vulzerda. We may not even need to cook her, what with Livya's propensity for spontaneously casting hellfire, a spell so devilish that it burns even the warlock casting it. Until then, the defenders of the Scarlet Monastery have to deal with some seriously foul turkey foot odour.
We seem to be reaching the point where a retribution paladin and enhancement shaman are sub-optimal for a tank and healer combination. Whereas Vulzerda is healing only temporarily as we await the return of our druid, it is perhaps time for me to consider changing my focus to the protection talents. Although we don't have too much trouble facing the mobs in the Scarlet Library, and Arcanist Doan becomes less of a challenge after I realise I am mistaking him for Grand Crusader Dathrohan in Stratholme, the damage spikes from the monks cause a few problems that could be smoothed out with a more defensive posture on my part. I am also told that not running unannounced in to side-rooms to face multiple mobs out of sight of the healer will also help mitigate damage spikes, which I duly note.
After clearing the library twice, once on the way in and once through the respawns on the way out, we only poke our noses a little way in to the armoury. We will be coming back to Scarlet Monastery. With plenty of interesting architecture to see, lots of good books to read, and hordes of deluded maniacs to battle, the monastery is worth more than one visit. There is so much more to see than a single day permits. And as Arcanist Doan guards the Scarlet Key, which opens the other wings, we will return to him so that our still-absent druid can get her copy of it. Our return definitely has nothing to do with a certain absent-minded warlock, mentioning no names, forgetting to get the key herself, muttering pitiful excuses like, 'I was a sheep at the time', 'I knew we'd be coming back for Qattara's sake', and even, 'I didn't know to pick it up, I'm ex-Horde, I've never been here before!'
Returning to Stormwind, I go to the cathedral to visit my mentor, who teaches me new ranks of a few skills, as well as finally giving me my protective bubble. I try out the bubble, but my first attempt fails as my hearthstone is on its cool-down. With a sly chuckle, my mentor reminds me that it is important always to have the hearthstone ready when attempting the bubble-hearthstone manoeuvre, a lesson only needing to be learnt the once. I thank him for his blessing of wisdom, whilst hoping that the Scarlet Crusade will accept my admission next time I'm there so I can get my revenge on this smug git. Of course, I'd better remember to set my hearthstone to somewhere other than Stormwind when I wreak my revenge, as bubble-hearthing after killing a paladin trainer won't be a terribly effective escape if I then walk out of an inn only a hundred yards away.
As I turn to leave the cathedral, future plans effervescing in my mind, what do I spy but a quest waiting for me to pick up. Waiting in the cathedral's catacomb is another cleric, who holds the mission. 'Good paladin, would you mind travelling to Desolace? At Nijel's Point, you will find Brother Anton, who has an important task for you.' Oh, that's fabulous. No wonder he ignored me, he's seen by appointment only. Back to Desolace with me!