Paladin and warlock

17th November 2009 – 5.40 pm

One is a good and pure bringer of the light, the other a demon-controlling master of the dark arts. Together, the paladin and warlock pair run around Duskwood and get up to all manner of wacky hijinks! The biggest prank is the one pulled on us by the villagers of Darkshire. 'Go to Raven Hill', they say, 'and investigate, uh, some strange noises, or something'. So investigate we do. And upon our return, the villagers ask us to 'do something about the skeletons there as well, would you?', so we go back, once more travelling the breadth of the zone on our quest. We've killed the skeletons, we tell the villagers, at which point they say, 'Oh yes, and there are some ghouls too. Did you kill them? I think we mentioned wanting you to do that.'

The run between Darkshire in the west and Raven Hill in the east is long and boring, made awkward by a few kinks in the road that mean you either pay attention or spend five minutes running in to a fence. But there is an easier way, one born of frustration and having visited the zone many times before. The gryphon master in Westfall is a short hop across the river, making it much more convenient to fly back and forth between Darkshire and Sentinel Hill. Any costs incurred are more than made up for in time. With this strategy, our adventures in Raven Hill accelerate. That we could head south in to Stranglethorn Vale and start on Nessingwary's hunting quests pretty much assures staying in Duskwood and flying to and fro all night.

Along with skeletons, ghouls and spiders, oh my, we meet Abercrombie, a codger in a shack who survives a stone's throw from the undead-infested cemetery. He asks us to get him all manner of weird and disgusting items, yet we trust his intentions, little believing him to be an embalmer creating a monster to send to destroy Darkshire. If he only had said something, we'd have been keener to help exact revenge on those gits. Instead, we spend plenty of time in the cemetery, wiping out all manner of undead whilst trying to avoid one in particular. Mor'Ladim still patrols the north of the cemetery, but now that his sword glows with an unearthly light we are less susceptible to thinking he's an ordinary skeletal guard. He still has a habit of sneaking up on adventurers, though. And between Mor'Ladim, the wealth of undead to defeat, and Abercrombie, I am reminded of why I enjoy the quests of Duskwood so much.

The Dawning Woods Catacombs and Raven Hill Mausoleum are separate underground buildings, but dig deep enough and broken walls reveal a tunnel that link the two structures in a way I'm sure many people still haven't discovered. A thick, purple mist descends whenever you stray too far up the hill towards Forlorn Rowe, and such is its unsettling effect that Livya is unnerved the first time she experiences it, wondering what evil is about to be unleashed. Mor'Ladim may not be quite as notorious as Hogger as an elite patrolling mob, but I find him more menacing and a mob you quickly learn to run from. There are graverobbers in one section of the cemetery, who attack if approached and appear to have no other function but add to the atmosphere.

Raven Hill has such a great atmosphere in only one area of Duskwood that everything else is a bonus, from the worgen in the Rotting Orchard and the hidden caves amongst the hilly outcrops, the continuation of the Defias Brotherhood, to the legend of Stalvan. This is a rich area for adventure, for quests and story, individual nemeses and varied groups of mobs. To top it off, there is a huge dragon sitting in the middle of the zone, although it's not there when Livya and I stop in for a light brunch. Instead, we run in to Stitches on the road, having revealed Abercrombie's true intentions at last. We could let Stitches wreak havoc on the villagers of Darkshire for a while, and it seems like a good idea when Livya happens to be on a gryphon, but it is such a good opportunity to face this abomination once more that I can't help but charge in to combat.

A dwarf hunter joins in the fray, adding his entire knowledge and experience to the battle by shouting 'Heal me!' at possibly strategic moments, apparently unaware of my empty mana bar. I throw caution to the wind and use my ability to lay on hands, using the last of my resources to heal the hunter whilst Livya joins us after landing. My tactical withdrawals may possibly have seemed like running away from Stitches as he pounded me heavily, but I was really leading him closer to Darkshire so that Livya doesn't have so far to run. When she catches up some dark magic indeed is unleashed, and Stitches cannot survive the onslaught. It's a fabulous moment, and I want to commit it to memory.

'You purposely made me stand on the incline so that I'd look short.'

'Nope, you're just stubby.'

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