Iron Man Challenge: Southern Barrens Edition
Last time we left off right at the entrance to the contested Southern Barrens. If I was sick of the Horde in Stonetalon, the Barrens had a surprise for me: more Horde!
My first quest in the Barrens had me defending the Alliance bases from a Horde onslaught along the coast. I remember when the Barrens were all about stabbing animals in the face and stealing their body parts. Ah, memories.
At least the scenery has improved a bit. The oases were always rather pretty but ever since the Cataclysm, they’ve been put on steroids.
After killing a bunch of Horde infantry, I was sent off to investigate the strange power that turned the little oases from little bursts of green into a massive, sprawling jungle. If you look closely enough, there are a lot of interesting things tucked away in the corners of the Barrens. Like the raptor dens.
If I recall correctly, raptors in Warcraft are supremely intelligent creatures with a complex social structure. I might be recalling that from fan fiction, but whatever. There’s evidence enough in WoW to support it, if you look closely. These quests in the Barrens have you tracking down a den of raptors who ambushed a supply caravan and stole (!) the supplies. Not only are they coordinated enough to ambush a caravan successfully, but they have the brain power to recognize the value of Alliance supplies (which they have likely not seen before) and the ability to coordinate themselves enough to take those supplies back home. Damn.
They also appear intelligent enough to build homes instead of nests (pictured) and decorate them. Let’s take a second to understand the significance of that. Any introductory anthropology class will tell you that one of the things that separates humans from the rest of the social beasts is that we have art. We decorate things. We add adornment to our bodies and to our homes. Apparently so do raptors. Look closely and you’ll see feathers tied to the structures above. Those feathers had to come from somewhere. They didn’t fall off a raptor and get stuck. They didn’t magically appear. They were tied to the sticks on purpose. Raptors, apparently, are smart enough to say, “This is my home, and I want it to look nice.” They can also, apparently, climb trees to hang surprisingly intricate ornaments up around the perimeter of their den, much like many native human tribes do to mark territory.
The icing on the cake is that raptors on Azeroth wear feather armbands. It’s highly unlikely that a passing troll decided to bedeck every raptor forearm he saw. That means that raptors adorn each other, a practice seen almost exclusively among humans. Kinda interesting, I thought.
After taking back the supplies from the raptors, I came across a tauren burial site. I’ve mentioned before that I love tauren, and this is one of the many tiny details I love about them. If you take the time to look, this game has so many little tidbits of lore hiding in plain site. I love how the developers thought to give the tauren their own burial rituals. This site was tauren-only, but there are other grave sites in the Barrens that display all the Horde races, and each one has a unique way of burying their dead. Fascinating.
I reached the cool, shady boughs of the overgrown oasis in the middle of the Barrens. It’s a far cry from the small, lush pools that used to dot the landscape. Thanks in no small part to Naralex and his meddling, the Barrens’ ecosystem is out of control. And thanks to some timely intervention by yours truly, it’s on the mend. Have a picture of flowers.
The Barrens’ lighting makes taking well-lit screen shots rather difficult. Outside of the oasis it was bright and sunny but inside everything had this sickly yellow, late-evening sunlight sort of thing going on. Still, it was pretty, if a little forbidding.
Deep inside the brambles Iarann and I met with a tribe of quillboar who could not be persuaded to act rationally. So we slaughtered them. Amidst the carnage, I noticed that the local quillboar had taken to using unwary travelers as building materials.
Back at the base camp among the thorns, I ran in to this guy. His name was Ol’ Durty Pete and I highly recommend you stop by and speak to him next time you’re in the area. His stories are pretty funny, not what you’d expect of some random low level NPC.
We left the shade of the oasis behind (after a strongly worded reprimand to Naralex for, you know, screwing everything up) and rode south to continue the fight against the Horde. So tired of Horde. So tired. But the Alliance needed me. So I went.
We passed the burning husk of Camp Taurajo, where I had spent so much time back in the day leveling Horde characters. It’s part of a great quest line now where you learn just how far the Alliance is – and isn’t – willing to go in this war. When Taurajo was attacked, defenseless civilians died, and the quest text tells you that the Alliance General responsible didn’t want it to go that way. Honor amid chaos. Garrosh could learn a thing or two.
The passage in to Mulgore is blocked now by a very impressive set of gates, and I don’t really blame the Tauren for building them.
Onward further south, Iarann and I joined in the Alliance battle against the Horde. I’m not really sure how helpful we were, but we didn’t die, and that’s good. The same cannot be said for the good general who tried to make right by the civilians he killed. Rest in peace, sir.
Finally, finally, we left the battlefields behind. I dunno about you, but I’m tired of the Horde and tired of the conflict. I just want to shoot things with my crappy bow, take pretty screenshots, and try not to die. We found some dwarves and tried to help them, and somehow managed to set an entire stone bunker on fire (it was not our fault, I swear). We killed some more quillboar. And at long last, we waved farewell to the dusty, war-torn Barrens and hiked down into the fetid, mossy swamps of Dustwallow.
We’ll catch you next time for the Dustwallow chapter!