Any adventurers that make their way through Duskwood’s Raven Hill Cemetery are in for a nasty surprise:
(picture courtesy of WoWWiki)
That’s right. As if hundreds of angry ghouls and a horde of poison-spitting spiders weren’t enough to worry about, there’s also this elite skeletal horror who must be part Devilsaur, with the way he comes out of nowhere and beats you into a pulp. Nowhere in the cemetery is truly safe, and if you’re running around on its western side especially, you learn the fine art of looking over your shoulder and running like hell at the first sign of him.
But then, you learn the story.
In a lonely corner of the cemetery, there sits a weathered grave whose earth has been disturbed. Asking around in Darkshire yields you the tale of one Morgan Ladimore, a soldier of the Alliance who was called away to fight at Uther’s side in Lordaeron. He left his wife and three children behind, and as the war and the years dragged on, he clung to the hope that he’d return home to them someday.
Only, when he did get home, everything had changed. He found his home in ruins, no sign of his wife and children. Raven Hill Cemetery stretched on and on, filled with the graves of those who had succumbed to the plague. The town he’d once known as Grand Hamlet had been renamed Darkshire, reflecting the gloom that had spread over all of the once-lush forest. A priest suggested he search for the graves of his loved ones, but for a long time he refused.
When his search of Duskwood had been exhausted, he intended to go to Lakeshire, to continue it there. Only he went to Raven Hill instead, and wandered amongst the graves. An overgrown plot caught his eye, and, with dread creeping ever higher in his throat, he uncovered the largest of the three stones:
Beloved Wife and Mother
Grief turned to madness, and he shattered the stones with his sword. The graveyard attendants who tried to stop him fell beneath his blade. When clarity returned, he saw the crimes he’d committed. He drew his belt knife and drove it into his heart. Morgan Ladimore was buried hastily and without ceremony, but even in death, his grief and guilt would not let him rest.
Days later, he rose once more, rage winning out over sorrow. He began roaming the final resting place of his family, killing any unfortunate souls who might cross his path.
Once you put him to rest, Commander Ebonlocke of the Night’s Watch has you deliver the heavy news to another Watcher — a woman named Sarah Ladimore. She gives you her ring to place upon her father’s grave so he’ll know he has her love. This, truly, is what lets him pass on, and his final act is to bequeath his sword to you.
The Mor’Ladim chain is one of the saddest quest chains in WoW — even moreso, I think, than the Mathias Lerner ones out in Icecrown. You see the effects of the plague and the war on a man who was simply an average soldier, and the grief and loss he’s gone through.
Archeus is, of course, right next to Verigan’s Fist in Threnn’s bank. As it was with Verigan’s Fist, I was still fleshing her out when the time came to run through the Duskwood quests. I know it made her immensely sad — she was new enough to soldiering at that point, and though she’d seen what the plague could do, this was the first place she’d been where its effects were everywhere, the Scourge running rampant so close to her home city. There were other horrors there, too, in the form of the worgen and the darkness that had taken hold, but this one struck her the hardest.
She wonders what might have happened if someone had overheard Morgan looking for his family and told him Sarah still lived. She wonders what kind of guilt and loss Sarah must feel, having been absent when he came looking. I suppose it’s a bit of a plothole — with Sarah being a member of the Night’s Watch in Darkshire, how could he have missed her? — but it’s easy enough to assume that the priest he asked hadn’t heard of her. Maybe she was off on patrol, or out in Lakeshire, where he would have gone if he hadn’t found the graves.
Revisiting it makes me want to dig deeper into Sarah’s story. I feel the itchings of a ficlet, but I’ve never really written from a Lore NPC’s point of view before. I’m skittish about it. And yet I can’t get what I suspect would be the opening line out of my mind: They brought my father’s head to Ebonlocke.