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To Hell and Back

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This is an original story I wrote one night, upon Keeshan choosing a very creepy time to tell me that "the world has gone to hell". Please tell me in my talk page, or in this page's talk page if you know of a way I could improve it. This is my first pasta, and I would love for someone to taste-test it and tell me if it needs a pinch of salt.

The Story

In World of Warcraft, one of the more memorable quest lines happen in a zone called Redridge Mountains. It follows the escapades of Messner, Danforth, Krakauer, and Jorgensen, but most importantly, John J. Keeshan. The five make up Bravo Company, a group of agents who are working to push a group of orcs out of Redridge, Keeshan being the leader.

The quest line is a pretty good length, and it follows the player having to rescue the former four from imprisonment from the orcs, then them getting back at the orcs by blowing up their city and generally slaughtering every last one of them in a typical MMO fashion. The last quest, "Showdown at Stonewatch," involves the group (and the player) taking down two of the generals, Gath'Ilzogg, and Tharil'zun.

I've done this quest before. Many times. But lately, I've been getting interested in little nooks and crannies that nobody ever really bothers to go investigate. Blizzard hides a lot of places in the game just for flavor, to look pretty. I've always loved exploring them. Now, though, I'm kind of afraid to go poking my nose in where it doesn't belong.

Anyway, I just made a new character and decided to do this quest line again. I got to the last quest with little to no trouble. After beating the first boss for the quest, the aforementioned Tharil'zun, instead of going straight past the keep on my left to the second boss, I decided to enter the keep. There's no quest that directs me into there, and my desire to explore nooks and crannies took hold again. Maybe I'll find a rare enemy? An item left over from before they redid the zone? Anything worth looking at?

As I fought my way inside the keep, per the usual, I had the Bravo Company with me. Keeshan was always the one being attacked, since the enemies were elites, and would quickly decimate me. I began to lose hope in finding something interesting. They were just the same enemies that there were outside, no rare ones, nothing. I got to the top, inside a large room. It was empty, save for one enemy. I stepped up to the back of the room, up a small step. Keeshan spoke up through a speech bubble. "The world's gone to hell, Messner."

Now this was odd, I thought. The group constantly talks with one another as you guide them, with lines ranging from little quips about rumors they've heard while in imprisonment, or shots at Jorgensen, the butt end of jokes for the group. But when Keeshan has said this line in the past, he's only ever said my character's name. As I've said before, Messner is the name of one of the NPCs following me. A fire mage. Not me.

Keeshan spoke up again. "The world's gone to hell and back. I've seen hell, you know." As he was talking, he stopped following me. He just stood where he was when he first called Messner by name. He said one last thing before snapping back into formation, signifying he's following me again: "I've gone to hell and back, too, Messner."

World of Warcraft rarely used the word "hell". A few NPCs use the word "fel" instead (an evil sort of magic), leading to phrases like "what the fel", though a few do say "hell". However, the religion that humans worship in World of Warcraft does not speak of a heaven or hell. Hell only exists as a concept, a sort of "worst place to be", rather than an afterlife ruled by the devil.

I shook it off. I assumed he meant it metaphorically, as he meant it with the world. An NPC remarks on him being "used as a urinal for young orcs". I think a few years of being used to be pissed on would definitely take a toll on anyone's mind. Besides, there's a dozen different things each of the five men can say, maybe this was just one I haven't heard before.

I shrugged and started fighting my way back out of the keep, to the last boss, Gath-Ilzogg. We began to fight him. He summons a zombie, I quickly kill it. A smooth fight, everything seems to be falling neatly into place. Keeshan is, once again, taking the brunt of the attack. Eventually, the orc falls, and the Bravo Company is victorious.

Although, if you've done this quest, you know it doesn't end here.

In the game, I get a message message from Troteman, who works for the mayor, on a walkie-talkie-like device. He tells the group that the whole thing was a set-up, and we need to get out RIGHT NOW, before cutting out. Now, the real boss comes out, Darkblaze, a dragon that's being controlled by the orcs.

I remember the end to this quest well. If my memory serves, we're supposed to get the dragon down to low health, then he burns the group, save for Keeshan and the player. Darkblaze grabs Keeshan and carries him high over the lake before he dies, letting the fall kill Keeshan. The player returns to Troteman, who was watching from afar with binoculars. Troteman says that you were all heroes, and "a single tear rolls over his left cheek." I remember that line clearly. It was definitely one of the sadder quests in World of Warcraft.

But that didn't happen this time.

Instead, the fight went on for a while. Maybe it was just because I was a different class, but it seemed to take a while to beat the dragon. Finally, we get him down to one health, much lower than it usually goes before he grabs Keeshan, and he says his one-liner before killing the other four members of Bravo Company: "I grow tired of these games! Suffer in flames!" Jorgensen, Krakauer, and Danforth immediately fall, but Messner is still standing, and the dragon doesn't grab Keeshan. He just stays there at one health, unable to be killed, with Keeshan still being hit and Messner just standing there.

Keeshan's normally nigh invincible, he has enough health to be able to take on any of the enemies here without me even attacking, but his health still does go down. With the dragon unable to be killed, and the cut-scene unable to be triggered, Keeshan slowly started to die.

Keeshan normally gives a buff to the group. "Commanding Shout: Maximum health increased by 2,500." The icon it showed was pretty clear, a picture of a man shouting. But when he used the buff again, it's icon was changed to a man cowering in fear. It said "Commanding Shout: Keeshan is dying!"

The one-liners that Keeshan and Darkblaze shoot at one another stopped a minute or so after the buff changed. Keeshan just had a tiny bit of health left. He kneeled. This is where I knew, without a doubt, that this was not just a glitch. Something has to tell Keeshan to enter the kneeling animation. If it were a glitch, then they would have blindly kept going at one another until Keeshan died, or one of them despawned. But no, this was a cut-scene being played out. One that's not supposed to play.

After a few seconds, Messner turned toward Keeshan. "The world has gone to hell, Keeshan." Messner cast a spell at the weakened Keeshan, incinerating him. Killing him. He turned toward the dragon. "I've been to hell and back, too, Darkblaze." He pointed at me. "This world has enough heroes."

Darkblaze grabbed me. I don't know when this happened, but the lake in the center of Redridge where Keeshan is supposed to be dropped was replaced with an inky black nothingness. The nothingness below the ground, past the skybox. That kind of nothingness. The dragon flew over and dropped my character. I fell into the nothingness, and my character got darker and darker, as if being swallowed by the void. Eventually, my character completely disappeared. A box appeared. "You have died." I wasn't given the option to release my spirit. Just "You have died."

I couldn't close the game through the menu, or the "/logout" or "/quit" commands. I could only close it from the task manager, and even after trying to close the game, it hung around for a minute before finally closing.

After staring at my monitor, wondering what the hell just happened, I reluctantly opened World of Warcraft back up, logging back in like normal. In place of my level 20 rogue, it said "Messner, Level ?? Human Mage", complete with his picture replacing that of my character's. The background, normally dependent on the player's race, was gone, replaced with the same empty, black void. I tried logging on as Messner, but after the loading screen, it brought me back to the character select screen again. Messner was gone. So was my rogue.

I quit out of the game. A text file appeared on my desktop, titled "Messner.txt". The top line just read "You have died". I scrolled down a hundred lines or so. It picked up again. "John J. Keeshan was a warmonger. His fanatical racism toward the orcs was his undoing. The orcs needed to be stopped...but so did Keeshan. With the leaders of the Blackrock Orcs' operations in Redridge disposed of, they will eventually leave. But Keeshan had to be dealt with, too.

"You helped Keeshan along the way, never wavering in your faith in him. Did you ever think about what you were doing? Or were you only in it for the gold, consequences be damned? Did you know that when Keeshan managed to break free from the orcs, he slaughtered some of the other human prisoners just because they were there? He was sick. Someone needed to put him down.

"Keeshan had been to hell and back. Let's hope he stays there."

At the bottom, "Messner."

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