Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Last Ride of Cheerydeth, the Death Knight

With the end of the Wrath Beta, Cheerydeth, my level 80 beta Death Knight, officially retired into the mists of history. I don’t regret the 5 days and 9 hours /played I invested in Cherrydeth The First in the slightest – the beta was a very unique opportunity to see how the development process I spend so much time writing about actually works in action. Still, in the absence of a formal end of beta event bash, I felt that Cheery deserves one last hurrah. Hopefully, you, my readers, will indulge her with one post on Player vs Developer that isn’t directly about either players or developers, but rather, one pink pig-tailed Death Knight’s ride into the sunset.

“They say that the world is ending,” Cheerydeth thought to herself. “Funny. After the struggle against Illidan, the invasion of the Scourge, and the counteroffensive by all the peoples of Azeroth into the heart of Northrend, I always figured this world would go out with a bang. Instead, they say we’re all just going to cease to be. Probably the mages’ fault, or maybe Malygos. Magic can be irritating like that.”

Cherry shook her head as she rode her motorcycle down the streets of Dalaran. A cheese vendor lept out of her way at the last minute, cursing the day the Kirin Tor allowed regular adventurers into the city. Somehow, Cheery had a hard time feeling bad for them. She’d rather be flying overhead on her gyphon than running people off the street, but apparently the mages felt strongly about not allowing flight inside the city. Some idiocy about how having people swooping in and out to conduct their business in peace disrupts the feeling of the city. Cheery wasn’t sure why a group that wouldn’t let people in unless they appeared to be powerful enough to be useful cared quite so much about community to begin with, but then, she supposed that she might make a few changes of her own if someone ever gave her a magical flying city to run.

Cheery swung by the bank to dig through the piles and piles of arms and armor that littered her vault. Back in her living days, she would no doubt have been horrified at how many soldiers of the Alliance must have fallen in battle to leave so much gear lying around for every random post commander on the continent to hand out sets of armor to anyone who could complete a basic assignment and come back alive. If she ever wanted to start her own army, she could personally equip a decent sized adventuring party, perhaps even a small raid. Cheery passed by the enchanted jewelry from the mages, the armor of the Argent Crusade, the weapons of the Valiance Expedition, and the miscellaneous shiny objects from the strange puppymen of Sholazar Basin, for something she had not dug out for a very long time.

Most of her fellow Death Knights of the Ebon Blade had been eager to replace the Saronite gear they had worn until the day that the Knights ceased to serve Arthas. Cheery, though, had carefully stashed every last item away in her vault. Perhaps the Adamantite armaments of Outland had proven more effective in combat than the crudely forged gear of the unliving Scourge, but Cheery was not willing to forget who she had become so easily. Arthas’ plague had transformed her into something neither Gnome nor mindless Scourge, and the power of the Light had returned her will and control of her mind. The jet black plates and the glow of the runeblade reminded her of whom she had been, and why she had fought so hard to protect others from the same fate.

Cheery climbed to the top of the Inn and hopped out onto the roof, again cursing the Mages’ no-fly zone for making her take the long way, to take one last look at the city. She supposed that it was impressive how a city that spent years enclosed in a bubble within the ruins of Lordaeron now hovered above the serene but nigh deserted Crystalsong Forest. Despite the forest’s central location on the continent, neither the Scourge nor the invading forces of the Alliance and Horde had established much of a foothold in the area. Cheery guessed that the explanation for the general lack of population in the area beneath the city was probably another one of those magic things she’d rather not know about.

“Well,” she muttered, “might as well take advantage of it while it lasts.”
Cheery hopped off the roof, injuring herself, and tapped the power of one of the blood runes engraved on her Runeblade to instantly heal the wounds. There are, she supposed, some perks to the un-life. The Silver Covenant had installed portals to all of the cities of the Alliance, and even Outland’s Sanctuary city of Shattrath, in the courtyard. Cheery didn’t consider her choice for long, as the moments until the end of the worlds ticked away. Without hesitation, she stepped through the portal to Stormwind and returned to where her journey had begun.

Upon materializing in the Mages’ tower in Stormwind, she let her Netherwhelp out of its carrier, and summoned a ghoul for good measure. Riding around with a ghoul seemed to make the living folks around town nervous, but Cheery was somehow alright with this. That idiotic beggar outside the Stormwind Auction House didn’t seem to bother her so much when he saw a slathering ghoul at her side; Cheery did not for the unlife of her understand how none of the heroes inflicted with The Plague during the invasion had bothered to eat him first. Cheery lept from the ramp leading down from the top of the Mages Tower, tapping the faithful Blood Rune a second time, to avoid Archmage Malin. She may not be alive anymore, but, somehow, she couldn’t quite look the man in the eye after events in the Dragonblight. Sometimes the Kirin Tor could be more ruthless than the Ebon Blade when it came to such matters.

Cheery activated her white Mechanostrider and rode towards the Harborway that she had helped build, literally a life ago. As always, the ghoul, and her intrepid Netherwhelp somehow kept up, despite the Strider’s speed. Cheery never fully understood why the Lich King had taken everything of her former life but the little blue Dragonling’s collar. Perhaps a Lich King simply did not trouble himself with such harmless creatures, despite the great speed they exhibited when their master was speeding away on a robotic strider. Cheery closed her eyes for a moment, listening to the bird’s metallic clanking.

She had kept the armor and the Runeblade that Arthas had bade her soak in the blood of the Scarlet Crusade, but she did try to keep her use of the Deathcharger bonded to her to a minimum; its shrieking was, frankly, annoying. Obtaining a new strider had been one of the first things she sought after breaking free of the Scourge. While riding it, trusting that its navigational computer would take it to her destination, it was as if she were still alive.

Finally, Cheery reached her destination. She peered out across the canals around the grand archway and the path to the harbor that sat on the coast below Stormwind. The harbor had always been there, of course, but seemingly no one knew where it was or how to get there. Lord Bolvar had commissioned a fine team from Dun Morogh to blast a path down the mountains so that the people of Stormwind could reach it, ironically right before the Scourge had invaded and more adventurers than ever had needed to reach the port, and, through it, Northrend. Cheery wasn’t sure how many of the Ebon Blade had anything from their past lives that evoked any sense of pride; certainly the deeds they did since they turned had done a bit to dull the enthusiasm for their own past. Still, Cheery always loved that archway for some reason. Perhaps its sheer practicality was enough to appeal to the ruthless sense of aggression that simmered under the surface of all Death Knights’ cold exterior. Cheery wasn’t sure, but it was here she waited for the end.

Cheerydeth staggered groggily down to the main room of the Gilded Rose, dusting the cobwebs from her eyes. She gratefully accepted a glass of [Ice Cold Milk] from Innkeeper Allison.

“Another rough night?” asked the Innkeeper, worried about the sleep-deprived state of her guest.

“Yeah,” Cheery muttered, “More dreams.”

“Out hunting Witches again?” asked Allison, “What was that city you lived in, Altdorf?”

“No,” said Cheery, shaking her head. “No such tall, leggy antics for me. I was my regular old, gnome-shaped Death Knight self.”

“Oh,” said Allison, remembering the night when an Argent healer had delivered a barely-alive gnome who had narrowly survived infection with the plague infesting the city.

“Yeah,” said Cheerydeth. “It’s strange, though, it’s like she was somehow going away.”

Allison thought about that for a minute. “Maybe it’s the news from the front? That we’re taking the fight to Arthas, that the Argent Dawn has launched a crusade and even the Horde has joined us in striking back after the invasion?”

Cheerydeth nodded. “Yeah, perhaps that’s it.” She munched on a chunk of [Freshly Baked Bread] for a minute. “Oh, that reminds me. I heard back from Master Shaw... err, I mean the guy from the inscription shop. They said they didn’t have anything for me just yet, but someone named Marshal Dughan was looking for adventurers in some town down the road. Maybe I’ll be out of your hair sooner than we thought after all.”

Allison smiled. “Well, I’m sure they’ll find a good use for you in Goldshire. Say, when did you take an interest in inscription?”

Cheery shuffled uncomfortably for a second, thinking quickly. “Uh, it’s something the Death Knight version of me did, seemed like it might be fun. And hey, the market for glyphs took off overnight around here. No one had heard of them last week, and now everyone seems to have a few. Certainly seems safer than my old job as an engineer.”

Allison thought back a moment to the time she went past the canal district while Cheerydeth was working on the SW Harbor gateway, only to see her perched on top of a literal wagonload of explosives. “Fair enough. Well, you’re welcome to leave your Hearthstone here at the Rose for as long as you want. ”

Cheerydeth nodded. “Absolutely. I’ll be in and out of town to visit the trainers anyway. This won’t be the last time you hear of Cheerydeth.”


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