When it comes to taking to the skies of Azeroth, mine is one of struggle and triumph.
Back in the days of yonder (six years ago), a Burning Crusade baby such as I – as we tend to associate the time in which we began our ascent into this often volatile World (of Warcraft) – was making his way as a druid through the harsh lands of Kalimdor, the Eastern Kingdoms and the unknown broken land of Draenor, painstakingly referred to as the Outlands.
Maneuvering ever so carefully so as to not gain the attention of beasties and baddies that would see to my untimely demise, I often resorted to my class’s ability to stealth around the world.
Once at a level for which I could no further gain strength, I realized I was unable to participate in the exploration of the Outlands until I had endlessly devoted myself to grinds, farms, and daily quest hubs (Isle of Quel’Danas, at the time) to earn the gold to pay for what has been debated recently as a bane of the game’s existence: flight.
But alas, it was my triumph. Stacks upon stacks of silk cloth from the endless string of Scarlet Monastery runs sold contributed to my ability to soar the great purple nether atop my snowy gryphon (as I was Alliance at the time — don’t judge me).
As the Burning Legion fell and we turned our attentions northward back on Azeroth to the Lich King’s forces, I traipsed along the harsh bitter colds atop a ground mount who had yet to learn the ability to fly amongst the cold winds. Once again reaching the peak for which my strength would no longer increase, I paid a lump sum (my entire earnings from the questing 70-80 experience) to take to the skies, this time entertaining my OCD whims to complete my questing in Icecrown, still being careful to not swoop down upon a pack of elites that would devour me whole.
Again we faced the mighty big bad in an epic battle to the death only to find ourselves stepping afoot on a breaking land that fell victim to the being that was once its hardened protector. But this time, on a land with which I was already familiar, I was able to fly to unexplored lands, to battle the forces of Ragnaros and Deathwing, and see to his final demise. Never once did I question this ability to both explore and battle upon the monstrous drakes I had ripped from their masters and made to do my own bidding.
The entire world was simply my oyster (well except for that black part of the water that would make this funny yellow bar appear at the top of my screen).
With Deathwing’s demise and the embattled elements quelled and tensions between the Horde and Alliance once again on the rise, news of a mysterious new land that had appeared in the parting of a great mist began to spread. The call of the adventurer resounded as we met with new beastial-type friends that demonstrated a peaceful, jovial demeanor and had an affinity for all things brewed. The routine unchanging, we explored, battled, made friends, and learned of the great threat to Azeroth, this time being one of our own (as I am most assuredly Horde), our beloved Warchief (well, not really “beloved” more so than loathed). Upon completing my journey I, again, paid a tidy sum (which, again, was a bulk of my questing experience earnings) to be able to explore these lands for which I had already conquered, this time with a bird’s eye view of where my tracks had left their mark.
But lo, what was this before my eyes?
In the land of Mordor….er, I mean the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, a great dragonlike serpent floated ominously over the Vale. Through inquiry of the residents of the Two Moons I learned his name to be Alani; his kind was that of the Cloud Serpent, the same kind for which I was briefly introduced in the Jade Forest having met Yu’lon, a great jade serpent. And it just so happened there was a society of folk upon the lands of Pandaria whose sole purpose is the nurturing, care, and befriending of these great creatures. Immediately I took the reigns of my drake and flew as fast as it would take me back to the zone of this continent that had introduced me to sheer beauty of the land. For in the Eastern most part of the Jade Forest they laid their roots (if such people and flying beasts could have roots).
My time with these great people was short in the larger picture of the story of Pandaria which saw us finally defeating its great Sha enemies and our own Warchief. For a few short weeks I worked to gain the trust and favor of these great Pandarens, finding a serpent hatchling of my own that was on the brink of death. Nurturing it back to health, feeding it my finest dishes, and picking up its “discarded nutriments” I was able to take my first steps in learning to fly atop this magnificent beast. Through diligence, persistence, and the rescuing of eggs of what I was assured were its many brothers and sisters, I triumphantly reached the day where this small society had taken me in as one of their own, and in a joyous celebration, I became bonded with my cloud serpent. I named him Bob. Bob has become a great friend, always yielding when one of his brethren wishes to fly, such as his golden brother that emanates a heavenly glow and was obtain from the great Emperor himself upon the land in which time itself appears to lay still.
For you see, unlike previous adventures throughout my entire existence on and off Azeroth, I had not, up to this point, reveled in the storytelling and experience that was the Cloud Serpent dailies. While, yes, they were dailies, as a champion of Azeroth (or so I have been called), I worked to develop a close bond with this breed of mount. While the Netherwing experience was the closest to the Cloud Serpent, the difference lay in the witnessing of the development of the very serpent that would become one with myself. And it was a small pocket of storytelling such as this that has kept me questing for these many years.
So now we look to Draenor. The timelines have been manipulated, the threads are loosened, and we must travel back into the same portal to a time that once near ushered in the destruction of Azeroth itself.
But this forthcoming adventure will be on a land and in time unknown to us altogether. If rumors be true that we will be unable to take to the skies, then I will find a way to do so when I conquer my way through the land just as I have done many times before. It might take time (a whole patch for instance) but I trust that the experience to find and tame a flying beast in the land will be the same epic experience I enjoyed with the Cloud Serpent Pandaren. The journey will be trying, but all the more rewarding I suspect.
For now, I find that my stable grows and the beasts that I have tamed are restless. Perhaps it is time they ran wild? Though fickle and delicate it may be, it seems true that only Time will tell and currently, what it aches to reveal is secret.