Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Remembering Stratholme

   I'd never been able to appreciate Stratholme before the Culling of Stratholme came out. In truth, I was afraid of the original instance. It was too dark, filled with undead, and at the time I was unfamiliar with the game. It really unnerved me and I avoided it like the plague. The same went with Scholomance. Now, however, they're some of my most favourite dungeons, though I haven't played Scholomance at level 90 - you know what kind of a player I am!
   And so it wasn't until I saw Stratholme for what it used to be that I saw the original instance in a different, fiery light.
   I didn't know that you can go into the Culling of Stratholme and walk around in there. If you just don't speak to Chromie and run right past her, you have almost free reign. You only need to start the instance to get through the bookcase Arthas opens for you.
   So I decided to snoop about, since I'd only ever been in there with a group. And then I decided to add a narrative. Enjoy.

Remembering Stratholme.

   I had been away from the city when the plague had struck, and I count myself among the lucky ones. But it pains me to think back and remember the faces of my family, who had also been killed in Arthas' slaughter.
   I have been back to the city since then, once, in an attempt to see what remained of my family and to collect sentimental valuables, but I wasn't allowed in. The last time I saw my family was when I waved goodbye to them. My wife, Stephanie, waving with Jessemine at her side, my young girl. I was in a bit of a rush that day because a storm was about to set in, so I didn't spend as long saying goodbye as I might usually have. It was only a three day trip to a nearby travelling market and back. I thought I'd see them again soon.
   I live now in Redridge - far more than a stone's throw from the city. I have to admit, I've never been able to make my mind up about how I feel about that fact. On one hand I'm glad to be so far from the wretched place, and from what transpired there. But on the other, all I have left of my family is in that place. Afterall, all I took with me were the clothes on my back.

   The road has changed significantly. The colours of the plants - though it's mostly just fungus living off of the rotted vegetation that still manages to hang on, allowed to live, seed and then die just to keep the fungi alive. The buildings are in ruin, too. Homes of friends of mine no more now than rotten wooden beams and rubble. The roads are uneven, and the's alien to me.

   I continued along the road and soon reached the familiar stone face of the city's wall, though I suppose 'familiar' is loosely used at this point. The foot of the path, once flanked on either side by towers, are now replaced by Scourge Ziggurats. I steeled myself and continued onwards along the bridge, and soon reached the gate. The banners are still hanging, But, I guess, why would anyone take the time to remove them?

   I stopped at the end of the corridor, hot air quickly weighing down upon me. But that wasn't what caused me to stop. The sight before me shook me to my core. Guards would usually be posted on either side of the gate, ready to stop and question anyone suspicious, and keep the peace. Citizens would go to and from The Stone Crow tavern at the far end of the road and everyone would live in relative safety.
   I had expected a ruin, but not like this. Fires burned everywhere, the air was thick with smoke. I had to tie a cloth about my nose and mouth to clean the air, but I knew I couldn't stay here for long. Another thing I couldn't make my mind up about.
   Buildings that were once so familiar had crumbled to ash or were simply still burning. I forced back the wondering at how the fires could still burn after so many years. It was not an answer I wished to have.

   I reached the end of the path and noticed movement. I froze, uncertain at what was going to happen. I had heard that some Scourge still dwelled within the city, but up to this point I hadn't had sight 'nor sound of them. I was in the middle of the road - a rather obvious mistake - and wouldn't be able to hide without drawing attention to myself. Fortunately - perhaps - while I was busy panicking, I finally saw what had caught my eye. A woman. I was still unsure how to react, but I soon noticed something odd about her. She was casually dressed, and walked as though she was quite at home in the burning city. It wasn't until she passed a burning pile of lumber that I realised that she was translucent.
   I began to walk onwards, slowly at first, but I began to realise that she was oblivious to her surroundings. I watched her head to The Stone Crow tavern and stand at the door, making casual movements of her arms as if speaking - though there was no sound. She appeared to be laughing at one point, and continued her silent conversation with the boarded up door for some time. I slipped past while she was occupied, rounded a corner and felt a sudden chill. It took me a moment to realise that another ghost had walked straight through me.
   My heart began to race, and I was considering leaving, but my legs marched onwards and I, of course, had to go with them. I wanted to see it all, see everything that had become of the city.

   I stood, then, in King's Square. Stephanie used to sell her fruit and vegetables at a little stall here. There's no trace of it anymore. I wonder if she had been here when the Plague I can't think about that. I haven't come here for that alone. I've come here for closure.
   Fras Siabi's place, which used to have the odd little robot outside, is the only recognisable place left in the square - aside, of course, from the old statue and fountain. Having noticed one, then another, I'm seeing more and more ghosts roaming the area. They seem unaware of the state of the city, and go about their business as if they were alive and all was well. Rather unsurprisingly, many ghosts of men seem to head in and out of Siabi's.

   I turned and left, continuing to Festival Lane. I'm coming to terms with the ruin now. While at first I had no bearings at all, made worse by expecting to recognise these surroundings, I have finally found them again. Despite the smoke, I can recognise places I visited regularly - Goodman's, Angelista's Boutique, Leeka's Shields and Axes, and not to mention Aaren's Flowers, a place frequented whenever I was in trouble with Stephanie. I couldn't help smiling to myself. Women could be so complicated, but they could also be so simple, too.

   I passed by Market Row, and soon found myself in Crusader Square. Or, rather, near it. As I drew nearer I could hear voices. At first I thought it was Scourge, and I was going to turn back, but something came over me. Some kind of hungering - for revenge or simply curiousity, I couldn't decide. Both, I suppose. I don't know what I thought I could do if it was Scourge. Though I was armoured in leather and I had a sword at my side, I didn't have all that much training in combat. I couldn't go unarmed, though, and I was too determined to change my mind.
   I hid around the side of the gate and peered around the corner. There were Undead there - Horde or Scourge I still don't know. Surely it could only be one or the other. They were milling about outside of the Cathedral, but they seemed to be some kind of purpose. I don't know what it was and I didn't want to find out. There was no way they'd be friendly.
   I turned to leave. I'd been there for a few hours already, and though the cloth around my face was doing a fine job keeping the dust and smoke out of my breath, I was sweating profusely, and growing very tired. I took a shortcut through Market Row this time, glancing back and noticing the Kirtonos Brother's Funeral Home, looking just as miserable as it always did, despite now being aflame.
   A sudden gutteral noise sounded to my left - far too close for comfort. As I glanced in the direction it came from I saw a disgusting rotten face grinning at me - though I don't truly know if it was grinning, but it didn't seem to be able to control any sort of expression with what little muscle it had left. My heart stopped, but I thank my lucky stars that I was able to pick my feet up and run. I heard the sound again, and this time it sounded like laughing. More joined it, but I didn't look back. I ran and ran, and only half noticed the ruins of my old family home as I darted past it. I ran out from the city, and back down the road. I hadn't noticed what sort of time had passed while I was in the old city, but when I got outside of the veil of smoke, I found the sun to be shining directly into my eyes. It was late afternoon, I noted, but as I took the time to process this, I tripped on an old bone in the road, and landed at the end of the bridge.
   I glanced back towards the city as I scrambled back to my feet, but there was no sign 'nor sound of my pursuers. It was silent around me. I don't know if they lost me, didn't want to step out into the sun's light, or simply got bored, but I was left alone as I ran back to the nearest Argent post - the nearest point of safety.

   While I never got the chance to search my old home, I can say that I am satiated. I don't feel the need to return to the city, a need I had felt for years before. I have seen what has become of it, and I don't believe that, even if it could be rebuilt, I would ever set foot there again. I will pass this on at Stormwind. They will want to know what I've found. The city cannot be saved.


  1. Stratholme is really awesome place! Nice post!! :)

  2. Thank you ^^ I'd love it if they did recover the area. It's got a small zone on the world map, it would be awesome to clean it up, put the fires out and slowly inhabit the place again, but I can kind of see why it won't happen. A few generations would have to pass before anyone would be comfortable living there.

  3. Yeah exactly! Well hope we see some improvement atleast! :)


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